Good Samaritans Rescue 12 from Burning Freighter off Catania


By The Maritime Executive 04-09-2020 04:47:42

On Wednesday, the crew of a Bolivian-flagged freighter was rescued by a good samaritan vessel off Catania after a serious fire broke out on board, according to Italy's Guardia Costiera. 

At about 0700 on Wednesday morning, the port authority of Reggio Calabria received a mayday from the merchant ship Bellatrix reporting an uncontrollable fire in the engine room. The  Bellatrix was more than 180 miles southeast of Catania, Sicily within the Italian SAR area of responsibility, with 12 crewmembers on board. 

The Guardia Costiera of Reggio Calabria assumed coordination of the rescue and ordered the diversion of multiple surface assets to the scene. The agency's central rescue coordination center in Rome also sent a request for assistance from nearby merchant vessels via GMDSS. A Coastal Air Force P180 patrol plane launched from Catania along with with an ATR 42 SAR aircraft from Pescara.  

While Italian response assets were under way, the 12 crewmembers aboard the Bellatrix were rescued by the merchant ship Arife, which was transiting the area nearby. The Bellatrix's owner has dispatched a rescue tug, which will arrive on scene within 36 hours to tow the vessel to Aliaga, Turkey. While the ship's fate has not been disclosed, Aliaga is the center of the Turkish shipbreaking industry. 

The Bellatrix is in ballast and there is no pollution visible in the area, according to the Guardia Costiera. The vessel is being monitored by the agency's aircraft for any changes. 

The 1978-built Bellatrix is a 3,000 dwt freighter flagged in Bolivia and owned in Ukraine. Her Equasis record indicates that she has been detained by port state control inspectors four times in the past three years. Recent inspection records suggest an array of deficiencies related to SOLAS equipment, corrosion, watertightness, communications gear, machinery and fire safety.