40 year old shipwreck found in Cavo Doro – The story of the ship “Xrysi Avgi”

The story of the Augustis Polemis passenger-ferry and the tragedy of February 23, 1983 with 28 dead on the route to Andros

40 year old shipwreck “Xrysi Avgi”

Forty years after the fatal shipwreck of the passenger ferry “Xrysi Avgi” in the stormy sea of Cabo Doro, the researcher Kostas Thoktaridis and his team located at a depth of 110 meters, the “carcass” of the ship that took 28 souls with it to the bottom .

"Xrysi Avgi"
40 year old shipwreck found in Cabo Doro – The story of the ship “Xrysi Avgi”

“Xrysi Avgi”. With 42 people on board (21 crew, 16 truck drivers and five other passengers), the EG/OG “Xrisi Avgi” (in english Golden Dawn) sank on February 23, 1983.

It had departed at 16:06 from the port of Rafina. Its destination is Andros and other islands of the Cyclades. In his garage, he transported five trucks and nine tankers loaded with fuel with a total weight of 298 tons.

At 18.20 and while the ship was sailing in the Strait of Cabo Doro, in the middle of rough seas it initially took a 160 degree right inclination. Captain Antonis Gardelis then attempted to change course to the port of Karystos and immediately broadcast a distress signal on the radio telephone, which was received by the coastal station of Lavrio.

About 15 minutes later, however, there was an explosion – probably due to a fuel leak from the tankers – and the ship caught fire. A second even more powerful explosion followed and the “Xrysi Avgi” was overturned. Then, part of the superstructure detached and the trucks in the garage ended up at the bottom.

Some of the trucks and part of the superstructure had been spotted in the past, but not the wreck of the “Xrysi Avgi”

The passenger/ferry “Chrysi Ammos III” from Rafina, the passenger/ferry “Kastriani Keas” from Karystos, the Russian oceanographic ship Yakov Gakkel (Yakov Gakkel – Яков Gakkel) which was in the area for hydrographic surveys, rushed to the area. the Romanian “Bouldein”, the frigate “Lemnos”, the destroyer “Sphendoni” of the Navy and vessels sailing by. An Air Force C130 aircraft was dropping flares to help search for survivors.

Out of a total of 42 passengers only 14 were saved. Twelve were collected by the Russian Oceanographic, one by the Romanian truck and one by the “Chrysi Ammos III”.

For at least three hours, the “Xrysi Avgi” remained on the surface upside down and was carried away by the currents until it was lost forever at the bottom of the Aegean.

“The first images from the wreck are awe-inspiring”, describes Kostas Thoktaridis, while as he says, “it is impressive that from the fire and explosions (that followed) only part of the superstructure was detached while the rest of the ship remained intact at the bottom ».

"Xrysi Avgi"

A special underwater remotely operated vehicle ROV (Remote Operated Vehicle) was used in the location and identification operation.

According to the autopsy, after the explosions and its overturning and having earlier been freed from the cargo of the trucks, the “Xrysi Avgi”, during its sinking, returned due to the low center of gravity of the engines and tanks, in a correct position and settled on the sandy bottom with the keel and with a starboard inclination of 8 degrees.

The shipwreck features the ship’s characteristic yellow funnels with the red-and-white logo of the ship-owning company, the letter P (the “Xrysi Avgi” had been purchased in 1976 by the company “Grammi Epirou EPE” of Augusti Polemis and had joined the Rafina – Cyclades line as a passenger – ferry).

The stern catapult is closed and secured, the anchors are in place in the ship’s holds, and sheets are seen shifting to starboard.

At the stern, you can also see the winch for the ships when the ship was moored in port.

On the aft right side you can clearly see the corridor which even today has the two characteristic benches. There is the manhole that led to the engine room half open.

The discovery of the wreck of the “Xrysi Avgi” awakened memories but also mixed emotions among the relatives of the victims: “”The fact of finding the sunken “Xrysi Avgi” is important, but our people who perished with it will never return…” , K. Tsoumezi, wife of the captain who disappeared with his ship on that fateful day of February 23, 1983, told APE-MPE.

Deepest gratitude to Mr. Kostas Thoktaridis for his help and the photographic material.


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