The captain of the container ship Maersk Launceston, which struck and badly damaged a Greek minesweeper off Piraeus early this week, now faces criminal charges related to causing a shipwreck due to negligence in Greek court. At about 0730 hours Tuesday, the Maersk Launceston and the Hellenic Navy minesweeper Kallisto collided off Piraeus, injuring two out of 27 of Kallisto’s crewmembers.
Judging from photos taken just after the collision, it appears that the 50,000 dwt Launceston struck Kallisto amidships on the port side and cut her in half. Kallisto’s back deck and stern drifted away and sank, and the surviving forward half of the ship took on a heavy list. The operator of Maersk Launceston, German shipowner J.T.T. Essberger, said in a statement that there were no injuries aboard the container ship. The wreck of the Kallisto was towed away and delivered to the Salamis Naval Base. Its final fate has not been determined.
Essberger is fully cooperating with the Greek investigation. Though Maersk Line does not operate Maersk Launceston, it said that it is aware of the casualty and has been in touch to offer its support to Essberger.
The Launceston’s Polish master was detained following the collision, according to Greek media, and on Thursday he was charged with negligence and a violation of international navigational safety regulations. He has been released and given until November 11 to assemble a legal team and answer the charges. The Piraeus Port Authority is leading an inquiry into the factual circumstances, and it has requested a period of three months in which to complete its report.
Managers John T. Essberger report that its managed container vessel Maersk Launceston is currently alongside its lay-by berth in the port of Pireaus, Greece following yesterday’s collision with the naval vessel Kallisto. Maersk Launceston has been requested to remain in the area for the time being. Last night additional interviews have been conducted with the crew by local authorities who have meanwhile officially charged the master of the container ship in relation to the incident. A representative of the company has been attending the vessel in order to provide support to the master and crew.
The exact details of the incident which took place early on Tuesday, October 27 are yet unclear. Greek authorities are continuing their investigations to which John T. Essberger will offer its full cooperation.