Ship missing off Novaya Zemlya | Polarjournal
The fishing vessel “Onega” was built in Norway in 1979. Its capacity is 358 tons and it sails under Russian flag. (Photo: Okskaya Shipyard)

On December 28, 2020 at 07:30 information about the loss of the ship “Onega” was received in the control room of the headquarters of the Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations in the Murmansk region. According to preliminary information, 19 people were on board. Two people were rescued from the fishing trawler “Voikovo”.

The vessel was working for the Kalinin fishery from the Arkhangelsk region. The company has sent already two more ships to the scene of the accident. (Image: Alexander Kokarin)

According to various news outlets, a collaboration has been organized with the Marine Rescue Coordination Center and the Northwest Aviation Search and Rescue Team. The Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre coordinates and manages the operation. A search plane from the Northern Fleet is on standby. The ship is said to have capsized around 06:20. At the moment, the operation is hampered by the short daylight hours and adverse weather conditions. The wave height at the site reaches 4 meters and the air temperature is about – 20 degrees Celsius.

Bad weather and icing seems to be a possible cause

“We have received information about the sinking of the ship “Onega” in the waters of the Barents Sea near Novaya Zemlya due to icing. The vessel was fishing,” the news service reported. The crew of the Onega consisted of 19 people.

The Federal Agency for Fisheries announced that fishing vessels “Voikovo”, “Kapelan” and “Antias” were in the immediate vicinity of the accident site and immediately started searching for missing seamen. Two of the 19 crew members of the “Onega” were taken on board the “Voikovo”. The two rescued crew members of the fishing vessel that sank in the Barents Sea were wearing wetsuits and the captain is not among them, an informed source told Interfax news agency. According to the source, no search plane can be used due to bad weather.

The accident occurred about 300 nautical miles (560 kilometers) from Murmansk. (Graphic: Heiner Kubny / Google)

The rescued fishermen of the “Onega” reported the death of at least one of their comrades. They had lost sight on the other crew members. According to them, the crew did not have time to use the rescue equipment. Disaster struck very quickly. “The accident occurred during a heavy storm when the crew was pulling out a net with the catch. Everyone was in wetsuits, but no one had time to use the rescue gear. The sailors were literally washed off the deck into the sea. Ten minutes later, the passing “Voikovo” rescued the two fishermen,” an informed source told Interfax. There is little hope of finding any of the missing crew members alive in the freezing water.

The fishing vessel “Onega” was built in Norway in 1979. Its capacity is 358 tons and it sails under Russian flag. The vessel is reported to have departed from the Norwegian port of Kirkenes on December 14 bound for the Barents Sea.

Heiner Kubny, PolarJournal

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