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Polish Ferry Jan Heveliush tragedy
Bestdivers - 7/11/2010 6:10 PM
Category: Event
Replies: 0

Wreck of the ferry M/F "Jan Heweliusz"
Loss of the ferry "Jan Heweliusz"

"On the night of 14th January 1993, a Polish ferry "Jan Heweliusz" sank in tragic circumstances in the vicinity of the Rugen island, and actually some 15 miles off the cape Arkona. A storm was raging on the Baltic Sea, with the wind blowing at the velocity of 160 km per hour. The 12-step Beaufort scale didn’t provide for wind of such crashing power, otherwise unknown on the Baltic Sea. Despite warnings of strong wind from meteorologists, who failed to foresee the coming storm, the "Heweliusz" left the Œwinoujœcie harbor "full steam ahead", setting off for the ferry terminal in Ystad, Sweden. It was Wednesday, 14th January, 11.30 p.m. The weather was dismal, but not catastrophic, with the wind reaching 6-7 and even 9 on the Beaufort scale, which is nothing out of the ordinary for the veteran crew.
The ferry’s skipper, Andrzej U³asiewicz, blue water sailing captain of 46 years of age and with 13 years of experience at the post of captain under his belt, was a true professional. A command rang out: "Raise the anchor, we are setting off!" 13th January was a wretched day. The stern port closing off the interior of the train and car deck was speedily overhauled. All the work was conducted at so-called own discretion. Were all the faults removed? Still, haste makes waste. The time was running out. The departure had been already postponed for two hours. To make up for the delay, a shorter route had to be chosen. One more risky, but certainly not as long."

What caused the ferry to sink?

Eventually, the Maritime Chamber laid the blame on the captain and his crew. Was that the case? There are still many questions and doubts; moreover, it is not universally known that the Heweliusz had had stability problems even before the sinking. The results of an upper deck fire were covered by 30 tons of concrete, laid in order to level out the uneven surface, which must have disturbed the balance of the ferry. The unexplained heel towards the quay at Ystad, Sweden, offers more doubts as to whether the stability of the ferry met the required criteria. Or, is it true that on the night of the disaster the bow thrusters were out of order due to the bad technical state of the vessel?

Arrival and M/S Brigitte

On 12th August we departed for a diving expedition to the wreck of the Jan Heweliusz, which was to prove very exhausting. First, we spent 12 hours on the road from Warsaw, followed by a virtually sleepless night and a dive; barely out of the water we had to return home, which wasn’t as mad as it was draining. Still, we managed to see the remainders of the tragedy which struck in the dawn of 14th January 1993. There were 55 fatalities, 5 missing persons and only 9 survivors.
This dive required a different approach. Subconsciously, we were well aware of the seriousness of that spot and its function as an