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Derek Walker

Derek Walker has an excellent website about cruising with details on the Oceanos sinking

He was not aboard when the Oceanos sank, but he documents how he followed the radio and television news reports of the sinking of the Oceanos. He also details his cruise on the Oceanos two years prior to the sinking (see My Oceanos Cruise).

My Oceanos Cruise


THE OCEANOS SINKING: News coverage as it happened

The Oceanos was a ship I remember with much fondness, the voyage I took on her in 1989 was briliant and her loss was a tragedy. It was one of the few shipping disasters that was photographed as it happened, and where all lives were saved. In fact, the rescue of the passengers will go down in history as a lesson on how to rescue passengers off a ship in trouble. I did not sail on this final voyage so cannot comment on what happened at the time. All I know is that many people were there, and thanks to the bravery of those who performed that rescue, they are still here to tell us about it.

I have just seen the first visuals on TV, she is listing badly and things do not look good, how could this happen? At the moment I am waiting for the TV news update promised for 15H30 to see what has happened, the news that 100 people are unaccounted for is worrying!

Radio Highveld, 15H30:
SAPA reports that more than than 100 are unaccounted for. It is uncertain how many people have been saved. Durban port authorities have confirmed she sank at 13h30. 220 people were airlifted from the Oceanos to Coffee Bay, 150 people were rescued from sea, there were 580 passengers and crew on board. The salvage tug Wolraad Woltemade has reached the tanker Mimosa which is adrift about 45 kilometres off Port Elizabeth. The ship is leaking oil and her steering gear is damaged. The harbour tug PJ Du Plessis was first on the scene. The John Ross is expected to join in the operation later.

TV1. 20H00. 
By now the whole drama has played itself out. The real heroes are the chopper pilots who braved extremely hazardous conditions to rescue those in trouble. The passengers remained calm and it appears as if the band played music to calm the nerves. There are disturbing stories about the crew abandoning the ship to save themselves and of the master being taken off the ship in the early morning. The representative from Epirotiki is very evasive, he does not even know the Captain's name! There is still confusion about the amount of people missing, however it seems to be about 27.

TV1 06H30. 05-08-91.
As I got up I switched the TV on and they showed the final moments of the Oceanos. There was an unreal quality about the footage, here was the whole thing in colour, the blue sea, the cream coloured hull, the white deck chairs and this ship that I got to know so well slowly being swallowed by the sea. Eventually only debris was left behind. She was gone. As the day has gone past so the papers have told their story and the survivors have come home. All that is left are questions.

It is Wednesday, all the passengers are safe and there are allegations flying left, right and centre. It is going to take a very impartial look at the circumstances. Too many hysterical passengers have said things that were not strictly true, they have laid the Master's career on the line and discredited the shipping company. On the other hand the Master has not exactly played his cards straight and frankly things are very uncertain. Hopefully the success of the rescue will overshadow the bad things that have surfaced. I hope this is not the end of cruising in South Africa.

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