Sadu

IMO Number7642089
Call signYQSC
TypeGeneral Cargo
DWT4693
Length106m
Beam14.8m
Draft7,1m (depth 8.5m)
Crew22
Cargoballast
BuilderBraila Naval Shipyard, 1976
FlagRomanian
OwnerI.E.F.M. Navrom Constanta, 1st Group
Sink dateDecember 2nd, 1988
Sink reasondrifted into, and struck the Constanta's harbour north breakwater, during a heavy storm
Survivors7
CoordinatesN44 07.123 E028 42.174
Depth21m

Sadu was built at Braila Naval Shipyard in 1976 and it was operated by I.E.F.M. Navrom Constanta.

During its last voyage, Sadu departed from Constanta on November 26th 1988, 20:00, towards Galati, where it arrived on November 27th, 19:00, carrying a cargo of 3025 tons of coal. At that moment, the ship was not used on international routes anymore, being scheduled for capital repairs. Until the planned date for repairs, Navrom was still using it for short hauls between Constanta and Galati.

Observing that the vessel's documents were expired, the Romanian Naval Registry - Galati performed an inspection of the ship on November 30th, and allowed it to make just the return trip to Constanta Shipyard, for repairs. The certification released by the authorities (03/2/1646 from November 29th, 1988), together with the testimony of its engineers - Constantin Pencu and Aurel Puf -, both proved that the ship was able to go back to Constanta safely.

On the morning of December 1st, 1988, Sadu left Galati, with ballast in its holds, heading to Constanta. It arrived there at 22:30, anchoring in area A. The ship had a reduced crew of 22, because 6 of them (Petre Moise - chief officer, Gabriel Mihalcea - radio officer, Gheorghe Pitorac - able seaman, Tudor Zisu - ordinary seaman, Vasile Burcea - motorman, Gheorghe Campeanu - cook) were left in Galati, being removed from Sadu's crew.

Sadu was moored by its port side anchor, using 100 meters of chain. At that spot, the depth was approximately 20 meters under the keel. The captain failed to inform the Harbour Master about the ship's anchorage position, but it was recorded in the log by the watch officer, Mihail Gadei, who estimated it being about 1 mile from the north breakwater.

During the morning of December 2nd, the weather got bad, wind speed reaching 5-6 on the Beaufort scale, with waves of 4-5 meters. At the beginning of the morning watch (8-12), the same officer - Mihail Gadei, checked the anchorage position and confirmed the vessel was not drifting. Because of the weather's evolution, at 11:20, the captain asked for permission to move behind the breakwater, on the alee side of the harbour. At 11:30, the permission was granted to enter the harbour. The crew started to prepare for maneuver.

At 12:00, Mihail Gadei was relieved from watch by Danut Rotaru. The helmsman on watch, Dumitru Simion, had declared later that at 12:30 he stared through the starboard windows of the bridge and noticed that the ship had reached a position only 100 meters from the breakwater, so he informed the watch officer. Danut Rotaru checked and confirmed that the anchor was drifting, and the ship was dangerously close to the rocks, so he also informed the captain.

At 13:00, the first officer, Sorin Roibu, used the radio to ask for help. He also ordered ahead slow, full to port, through the telegraph, but from the machine room he was told they will need 10 more minutes to power up the main engine.

In this critical situation, the captain Sergiu Grigorescu, also on the bridge, ordered to drop the starboard side anchor. Immediately after, the engineers managed to start the main engine. The port side anchor was weighed and the captain tried to maneuver the vessel away from the breakwater, without success. Meanwhile, the starboard side anchor was also weighed.

At 13:15, the ship collided with the breakwater. The captain was informed that the engine cannot be used anymore, as the propeller and rudder were jammed by the impact. A distress radio message was sent.

The tug boat Orion arrived at the site at 13:30, but failed to get close enough to provide any help, and it was ordered at 15:20 to move farther away, in order to avoid another accident. More tug boats arrived to the scene - Viteazul, Hercules, Pompier 8, Pompier 9, Petromar, Lebada 2, Pilot 1, Sirena 7, together with a military vessel - SRS 575, having divers on board, but in the end, they were only able to rescue just a few sailors from the sea, the huge waves rendering their attempts almost impossible.

The repeated collisions with the rocks made 7 large holes under the water line, in the cargo holds, and in the machine room. The ship took water very fast and heeled about 45 degrees to port. The captain gave the order to abandon the vessel, and the crew gathered on the highest deck. At 16:02 the ship straightened back up, then heeled abruptly to starboard, and went down. The crew made desperate attempts to escape, by jumping into the frigid waters. Eleven were killed when the waves pushed them into the breakwater, while 4 went missing, never to be found. Only 7 were rescued in the end.

The follow up criminal investigation concluded that the causes for the sinking were:

  • the watch and the captain both failed to monitor the ship's position,
  • the captain failed to take a clear decision when the vessel was in danger,
  • the main engine was not kept running while the weather conditions demanded such a measure, and
  • the fact that the S.O.S was only sent when it was too late.

Lucian-Sergiu Grigorescu - the captain, Aurel Toma - chief engineer, and Danut-Petrus Rotaru - officer on watch, all three deceased, were found guilty of the sinking. The interviewed experts considered that if the captain would have tried to run the engine ahead full, abandoning the anchors, the ship might have been saved.

By coincidence, 5 years later, another ship will sink exactly in the same place, in another winter storm.

Crew

Dead:

  1. Sergiu-Lucian Grigorescu, 45 years, captain
  2. Aurel Toma, 39 years, chief engineer
  3. Adrian Preda, 25 years, chief helmsman
  4. Vasile-Cristian Ceausu, 26 years, electro-technical officer
  5. Pavel Serban, 37 years, carpenter
  6. Laurentiu Seuleanu, 20 years, seaman
  7. Nicola Marian, 22 years, engineer
  8. Stefan Gheorghiu, 40 years, seaman
  9. Marius Girba, 24 years, electrician
  10. Negeatin Suliman, 30 years, motorman
  11. Nicola Vasile, 35 years, cook

Missing:

  1. Danut-Traian Helici, 27 years, engineer
  2. Iorgu-Sergiu State, 31 years, engineer
  3. Nicolae Bocai, 33 years, chief engineer
  4. Danut-Petrus Rotaru, 32 years, second officer

Survivors:

  1. Sabin-Sorin Roibu, 34 years, first officer
  2. Mihail Gadei, 24 years, deck officer
  3. Dumitru Simion, 27 years, helmsman
  4. Valeriu Pantelimon, 43 years, second engineer
  5. Artur Sahaghian, 21 years, motorman
  6. Cetin Gani, 22 years, motorman
  7. Ion Oprescu, 51 years, lathe man

The ship is lying on the sand, on its starboard side. The bow is very close to the breakwater, and at only 1 meter from the stern of You Xiu, while the stern is 60-70 meters away. The propeller and the rudder are severely bent by the impact with the breakwater.

The depth at sandbed is approximately 21 meters.

Most of the time, the diving boats will be moored on the starboard wing of You Xiu's castle. Reaching Sadu from that point means going to the port side at the stern of You Xiu, from which you should be able to see the bow of Sadu if the visibility is not too poor. In the worst case, if you are not familiar with both wrecks, deploying a little line from a spool can help you search it. Sadu is shorter than You Xiu, so one can swim the whole ship length and back during a single dive.