37 years ago, on Saturday, February 16, the vessel “Mechanic Tarasov” sank in the Atlantic. This tragedy in the waters of the North Atlantic claimed the lives of 32 seafarers, just five crew members were rescued.
On that fateful day, the containership was heading to Hamburg from the port of Trois-Rivières, but received a Mayday call from the semi-submersible platform «Ocean Ranger». The vessel deviated from the course and hurried to rescue. However, "Mechanic Tarasov" never get to the place.
The vessel run into a gale and got a list. The captain of the "Mechanic Tarasov", Anatoliy Bylkin, did not transmit a distress call on the international radio frequency, instead he sent a radiogram to the Baltic Shipping Company (BSC) with a request for help.
A Kaliningrad-based fishing freezer trawler KB-0244 "Ivan Dvorsky" was the nearest – among other Soviet vessels - to the scene. She went to rescue of the "Mechanic Tarasov" at full speed, but the distance between two vessels was about 100 nautical miles, that meant, given the stormy weather, 14 hours.
Having reached the containership, the fishermen realized that the “Mechanic Tarasov” would hardly hold afloat a couple of hours: the list to starboard reached 50 degrees with a significant forward trim. The “Ivan Dvorsky” had just a six-meter freeboard, so it was impossible to launch a lifeboat — it would have been smashed to pieces right along with the people. The trawler turned aft to the “Mechanic Tarasov” and began to draw closer in order to throw giving lines for life-rafts.
At this moment the Danish fishing vessel «Sicurfari» contacted a ship. Her captain said that they were near the Soviet ship and ready to help.
When the ships approached at the distance of the giving lines' throw , the “Mechanic Tarasov” began to go down headily, the seafarers were falling into the icy water of the Atlantic Ocean. The Danes could pull out of the water 9 crew members, but only 5 of them stayed alive, those, who spent in the icy water more than 5 minutes, didn't survive.
Moreover, the oil platform "Ocean Ranger", to which the ship "Mechanic Tarasov" was heading in order to rescue, also sank taking the lives of 84 people.
The crew members of the M/V "Mechanic Tarasov" were buried at the Serafimov cemetery in St. Petersburg. Every year in February their families and friends come here, as well as those who were acquainted or work with the perished seafarers, including representatives of the Baltic Territorial Organization of the Seafarers' Union of Russia (SUR BTO). They bring flowers and tend the grave.
Note that in 2014 Danish journalists shot the documentary “Save us, we are drowning” telling about the tragic loss of the “Mechanic Tarasov”. In this film the second mate of the “Mechanic Tarasov” Vyacheslav Kozhukhov and the crew members of “Sigurfari” share their memories about that tragedy and recall the “Mechanic Tarasov” crew the rescue operation of . Subsequently, the captain of the trawler "Sicurfari" Mikkyal Olsen was awarded the Order of "People's Friendship" for his role in the rescue operation, the rest of the crew were awarded the medals "For Life Saving".
Unfortunately, the film is available in Danish only, there is no English translation of it. Though, Vyacheslav Kozhukhov speaks English when recalling those the events of that day. The film “Save us, we are drowning” will undoubtedly be instructive and interesting to everyone whose work connected with shipping industry, especially those who knew and remember the dead seafarers, - the SUR believe.