One Dead in Harbor Tug Sinking at Port of Patmos

hellenic coast guard
File image courtesy Hellenic Coast Guard

Published Oct 23, 2022 3:51 PM by The Maritime Executive

On Friday, a small ship assist tug went down while working a midsize cruise ship at the island port of Patmos, Greece. 

At about 0640 hours on Friday, the tug Pothitos III met up with the inbound cruise ship Azamara Journey in a bay east of Patmos, AIS data shows. In circumstances which are under investigation, the Pothitos III sank during a mooring operation, according to the Hellenic Coast Guard. 

Two crewmembers were aboard the tug at the time of the incident. The deckhand, aged 26, abandoned ship and was rescued by a launch from the Azamara Journey, and he was returned safely to shore at the port. The skipper, 45, was recovered unresponsive from inside the wreck by a team of private divers. He was transported to a nearby health center, where his death was confirmed. The local port authority has requested an autopsy. 

No pollution has been reported, and the tug is in deep enough water that it will not hinder navigation, according to local authorities. 

A local diving instructor who was on scene at the time of the accident, Theologos Giannaros, told Turkish outlet Sozcu that "the cruise ship suddenly dragged the tugboat." The circumstances have not been formally established, and the Patmos Port Authority is heading an investigation into the casualty. 

According to ERT News, the head of the Hellenic Association of Owners of Tugs, Pavlos Xiradakis, has called for govrernment support to modernize the nation's towing fleet. The vessels in current use at some Greek ports are underpowered for the latest generation of larger vessels, he told the outlet. 

Azamara Journey is a 1,500-passenger cruise ship homeported in Athens and deployed for operations in the Eastern Mediterranean. She routinely calls at Patmos, Mykonos, Rhodes, and elsewhere in the Greek isles. Over the weekend, she departed Patmos for her next destination, Santorini.

Pothitos III was a 56-foot-long harbor tug built in 2002.