But what makes this tragedy unthinkable is discovering what both captains knew ahead of time.
One of the ships involved in the accident that fateful night was a freighter carrying tons of oats; the other vessel was an ocean liner carrying 1,234 people. It was the crew of the ocean liner that first spotted the trouble. They radioed the freighter a warning, but the captain of the cargo ship simply replied, “Don’t worry, we will pass clear of each other. We will take care of everything.”
But they didn’t.
As the two floating behemoths approached one another, the ocean liner threw its engines into reverse. But it was too late. The freighter’s hull ripped into the side of the cruise ship between its engine and boiler rooms. Within 15 minutes, the 525-foot long, 17,000-ton liner sank. In fact, it sank so quickly that lifeboats couldn’t even be launched.
That night, 398 Soviet citizens drowned…needlessly. It was a great loss of life that was mourned by the world.
But later discoveries would turn that regret into rage. Documents and ship’s logs revealed that both captains knew of the impending collision 45 minutes in advance of the maritime tragedy!
That’s right! They had almost a full hour to react…and didn’t! Adding to the shame, it was discovered that the captain of the ocean liner abandoned his post several minutes before the crash. The New York Times later reported that both captains were arrested because of their lack of leadership.
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(Resource cataloged by David R Smith)