The 114 meter long 2457 dwt cargo vessel Geroi Arsenala broke-in-two and sank south of the Kerch Strait some 50 kilometers from Anapa, Russia. The Geroi Arsenala had departed from Rostov-on-Don with a cargo of grain bound for Turkey. There was a storm in the area with strong winds and , but not severe to keep the cargo vessel in port. As the Geroi Arsenala passed the Kersch Starit the vessel suffered structural failure after struck by a five meter wave.
The vessel was able to send out a distress call alerting authorities the Geroi Arsenala was breaking up and sinking. The vessel remained afloat long enough for some of the 12 crew to don lifejackets and launch the ship’s lifeboat. Authorities launched a search and rescue operation deploying Russian Coast Guard and Navy vessels along with helicopters to the scene. A rescue helicopter reported seeing five crewmen in the water, but conditions prevented hoisting them to safety. One crewman, a mechanic, was later pulled from the water suffering from severe hypothermia. Additional reports state at least two bodies were recovered. Reports state the water temperature was no more than 10 degrees above freezing.
Built in 1980, the Geroi Arsenala now rests some 14 kilometers off the Kerch Strait in 100 meters of water. Authorities are concern that the cargo vessel had some 30 tons of fuel oil on board at the time of the sinking and could cause environmental damage.
Several reports suspect the Geroi Arsenala had not been sufficiently maintained for it’s advance age. Others have suggested that improper loading of cargo could have lead to the structural failure. Russian authorities have not yet stated the cause of the sinking, but have launched a criminal investigation into the incident.