Story taken from the Steamboat Bill Magazine.
Journal of the Steamship Historical Society of America.
By Stamos C. Ioannou
page is about the American
Star drydocking period and the preparation for the tow. The Owners and my
family are still thinking of the American Star, the loss of her caused
us all a great shock. The story of the ships preparation is what follows. The
vessel had been bought by Chaophraya Development Transport Company in October
1993 for $2 million dollars. The plan was to have the vessel prepared as soon
as possible and then tow her Thailand, where major work would be carried out
in order for the vessel to serve as a five-star floating hotel off of Phuket.
vessel had been towed to Hellenic Shipyards for the preparation work, which
was assisted by a team of contractors. The total of about $15 million
had been spent for the work which was supervised by Salvage Association and
the American Bureau of Shipping, Piraeus Branch. The ship remained in drydock
for 68 days, and, after ultrasonic inspection and repairs, the hull was certified
by A.B.S. for twelve years, provided it served as a floating hotel. The tow
contract was entrusted to Marman, a Wijsmuller sister company, and the total
agreed amount was $920,000 for the tow of the American Star from
Piraeus, Greece, to Phuket, Thailand, a tourist area in the southwest of The
country. The expected tow duration was about 100 days and the expected average speed 55
knots. The Salvage Association-approved tug was a Ukrainian flag tug, Neftegaz
67, a very modern tug built in Poland. American Star was insured in the
London market by Lowndes Lambert Group. Captain of the American Star from
the date of purchase and until the date it was to be towed from Greece to Thailand
was Captain Nick Rigas, a captain with great experience on cruise liners.
tug arrived a week before Christmas Eve and everything was ready by Christmas
Eve. By early afternoon, American Star left Eleusis Bay heading to Piraeus
Roads, towed by Neftegaz 67 and five Greek tugs of the Karapiperis Tug Company
and by eight in the evening the American Star had left Piraeus Roads
for Phuket, Thailand. During the long tow voyage, four port calls were scheduled by Salvage Association;
The first at Dakar, Senegal and the last at the Isle of Reunion. The day after,
and less than twenty hours after departure, I was informed by Neftegaz 67 that
due to very bad weather the American Star was yawing side to side and
sometimes was overpassing the tug. I instructed the Captain to return to Piraeus
Roads in order to solve the problem, if any. On board the Neftegaz 67 was also
a Dutch tug captain as tow supervisor. The vessel returned the day after in
the early afternoon. After several meetings, it had been decided to wait for
the weather to calm down, and, in order to control the yawing when crossing
the Greek Islands Straits, to construct, install and connect at the vessel's
stern, a specially made floating anchor. The vessel sailed again on New Years
Eve, December 31st, with full success.
daily reports for fifteen days until January 14th. were excellent. On Saturday,
January 15, the tow line was cut, on Sunday the tug crew succeeded in attaching
the emergency tow line, but, unfortunately the very bad weather and the winds
of 12 Beaufort caused the cut of the emergency tow line. In order to save the
vessel, Ukrainian sailors were sent on board the American Star and tried
to connect two polypropylene ropes to the tug in order to stay close. Unfortunately,
this was broken too, and finally the sailors had to be evacuated by helicopter
and sent to Las Palmas. The same day two more tugs from Las Palmas were next
to American Star to assist Neftegaz 67 in the vessel's salvage. Early
in the morning of the next day, Tuesday 18th of January, the vessel went aground
on the west coast of Fuerteventura in the Canay Islands, and almost 48 hours
later, she was broken in two (Click here for more
pictures of the wreck.)
was the end of the American Star. Some days later I heard that a German
tourist, a visitor to the island, tried to go onboard, but when he got close
to the ship he was injured and never found again. After investigations by various
experts, it was decided that the vessel be considered a total loss, and as the
wreck could not be removed, the only solution would be to cut it into about
32 to 36 pieces and dump them into the ocean's deep waters, this never materialised
as it would have been a very expensive project. The vessel had much potential,
and with the loss of the American Star, the work and dreams of so many
people involved for more than a year have been lost too.
marine engineer who resides in Athens, Greece. Stamos C. Ioannou was the General
Manager of the restoration project of the American Star.
The photos below are courtesy of ex-passenger Steve Tacey.
Welcome all visitors to the S.S. Australis Website, which has now been online since 1998!
I will continue to update the site if I receive a new story, or if you have interesting photos taken on the ship during your voyage
on either the southbound, northbound, or on one of the South Pacific cruises. We used to do those trips several times a year
from Melbourne, Sydney and Auckland (New Zealand).
I am deeply moved by the interest and wonderful contributions from the numerous passengers and crew over many years.
You can send an e-mail to me on the link below:
A HUGE THANK YOU
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