I checked also another casualty that I even witnessed: the collision between
the tankers PATMOS(loaded) and the CASTILLO de MONTE ARAGON(On ballast).
Please note that you mention 0 dead, but the chief mate, also watch officer,
died on the PATMOS while two other crew were missing (Lloyd's List
I was then master of a container ship and when I came to the bridge when
passing Stromboli island, I saw the CASTILLO de MONTE ARAGAON slightly ahead
of us, hoping we shall overtake it well before we enter the Messina strait.
Finally it did happen so, but once we rounded Capo Peloro we faced almost
ahead the PATMOS which was proceeding very slowly in the middle of the
channel while there was enough water on her starboard side and the Greek
tanker had already passed the ferry tracks. We came to starboard as required
by the collision regulations, but at about the same moment the PATMOS came
to port creating a serious collision risk. Thanks to our speed and enough
room on our starboard side we could easily pass ahead of the PATMOS and then
I had to pay more attention to the ferries. But once South the all the ferry
tracks, knowing that the PATMOS had also to pass the CASTILLO de MONTE
ARAGON behind us, I wanted to watch their meeting on the radar. Effectively
their respective echoes came closer and closer up to the point they formed
only one target on the radar PPI. Although this is quite a common feature
for ships close of each other, I looked outside just in time to watch a
large flash of light in the darkness. In a few minutes the whole strait
seemed covered with flames.
The weather or sea state was fair, visibility was excellent and the local
time of the incident was 05.31.
As they were plenty small craft to offer assistance in the many ports of the
strait and we were anyway loaded with dangerous goods we could do nothing to
help, but I sent a message to the management offering to bring my testimony
to help the unfortunate master of the Spanish tanker because obviously the
navigation of the PATMOS was extremely poor, however I never heard anything
more about the casualty until one friend working for an insurance company
sent me that article months later.
After this accident, pilotage was made compulsory in the Messian strait, and
I believe that loaded tankers cannot go through it any more. Although a
steering problem could be the cause of the accident, the fact that the
PATMOS gave the wrong maneuver when she met us almost ruled out this
steering failure option.