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HandWiki. Sinking of the Dalniy Vostok. Encyclopedia. Available online: (accessed on 23 June 2024).
HandWiki. Sinking of the Dalniy Vostok. Encyclopedia. Available at: Accessed June 23, 2024.
HandWiki. "Sinking of the Dalniy Vostok" Encyclopedia, (accessed June 23, 2024).
HandWiki. (2022, November 30). Sinking of the Dalniy Vostok. In Encyclopedia.
HandWiki. "Sinking of the Dalniy Vostok." Encyclopedia. Web. 30 November, 2022.
Sinking of the Dalniy Vostok

The Russia n-flagged fishing trawler Dalniy Vostok (Russian: «Дальний Восток» [ˈdalʲnʲɪj vɐsˈtok]; “Far East”) sank on 1 April 2015, off Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula in the Sea of Okhotsk. Fifty-seven of the ship’s 132 crew members were confirmed dead, with rescue operations underway for survivors. The freezer trawler sank 183 nautical miles (330 kilometers) west of Krutogorovsky, a settlement in Kamchatka’s Sobolevsky District. Sixty-three crew members were rescued by other fishing vessels, and 12 remain missing. Although recovery efforts continued on April 3, the TASS news agency reported that it was believed that the missing drowned in the engine room, and that all survivors had been rescued.

fishing trawler «дальний trawler

1. Background

Crew on board by citizenship
Citizenship No. Ref.
 Russia 78 [1]
Burma (Myanmar) 42 [1]
Vanuatu 5 [1]
 Ukraine 4 [1]
Latvia 3 [1]

Dalniy Vostok, a 104-metre (341 ft), 5,700-ton trawler, was built in 1963 as a whaling factory ship, and had international number IMO 8730429.[2] The vessel was constructed as Stende by the ship builders GP Chernomorskiy Sudostroitelnyy Zavod,[3] Nikolayev, Soviet Union (now Mykolaiv, Ukraine ).[4] She was classified under the (still in use) Soviet era general designation BATM (Bolshoy Avtonomniy Trawler Morozilniy [Big Autonomous Trawler Reefer]), which covers freezer trawlers as well as certain other types of factory ship. Dalniy Vostok was one of the vessels harassed by anti-whaling Greenpeace activists in the north Pacific in 1975.[5] The vessel operated in the Canary Islands until 2014, when she was purchased by the Russian company Magellan LLC.[6] At the time of the accident, the vessel was sailing out of Nevelsk, on the island of Sakhalin. The ship was fishing off the western coast of the Kamchatka Peninsula, in the Sea of Okhotsk in the Russian Far East.[7] There were 132 crew on board, from Russia, Burma, Ukraine , Latvia and Vanuatu.[1] The ship had an estimated value of $30 million; retiring and replacing Dalniy Vostok prior to the accident would have cost approximately $40 million.[8]

2. Sinking

On the morning of 1 April 2015, the engine room of Dalniy Vostok flooded, causing the vessel to quickly fill with sea water and sink within 15 minutes. Sakhalin governor Oleg Kozhemyako stated that the vessel was overloaded, and that the ship's ballast tanks were not being properly monitored and maintained at the time of the accident.[9] Vladimir Markin, official press agent for the Russian Investigative Committee said the most likely cause was a collision with ice, while Sergey Khabarov, emergencies commission chairman for the Kamchatka region blamed the 80-ton weight of the catch being hauled on board.[10]

The ship sank so swiftly that the veteran captain, Aleksandr Pritotskiy,[8] did not have time to send a distress signal.[7] Most of the fatalities in the frigid water (as cold as 0°-5 °C/32°-41 °F[11]) were caused by hypothermia, which also affected all the rescued crew.[8] The ship's captain and its first officer were among those killed.[12] Over two dozen fishing boats aided in the rescue, and the Russian Emergencies Ministry dispatched an Mi-8 helicopter with a medical team and rescue crew.[13] Russian officials said over 1,300 people aided in the rescue effort.[13]

3. Aftermath

The Sakhalin branch of the Far East transportation department has launched a criminal investigation for safety violations resulting in the death of two or more persons.[13] Those found guilty could face up to a seven-year sentence.[8]

A full crew manifest has been published in the tabloid daily, Komsomolskaya Pravda.[8] The daily reported several irregularities: that the boat was already "loaded to the eyeballs" with an unmanageable 1150 tons of pollock; that the ship had an insufficient number of lifeboats for the crew; that the ship had been certified as seaworthy, although the captain described it as a worn-out old wreck in constant need of urgent repair; and that the abnormally high number of foreign crew indicated they were underpaid illegal workers.[8]

Reuters described the accident as "one of Russia's worst maritime disasters in decades", part of a "poor safety history" that included the death of 122 people in 2011 when the tourist boat Bulgaria sank on the Volga River, and the death of over 50 people on board when a drilling rig sank off Sakhalin in the same year.[7] President Putin had faced widespread criticism for his slow reaction to the sinking of the Kursk submarine in 2000, which killed the entire crew of 118.[7] Komsomolskaya Pravda quoted expert sources as saying unanimously that while the crew will inevitably be blamed, the real problem is the system.[8]

Magellan LLC has announced it is conducting an internal audit.[8]

The government has announced that the families of the dead will receive one million rubles from state agencies.[8]

4. Reactions

After the sinking, many governments expressed shock and sympathy, and conveyed their nations condolences over the large number of lives lost. Among them:

  • Russia: Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed "deep condolences to the families and those close to those killed".[14]
  •  Armenia: Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan sent his condolences to Russian President Vladimir Putin over the loss of life in Russian territorial waters related to this accident.[15]
  •  China: Chinese President Xi Jinping "offered his deep condolences to all victims aboard the fishing freezer trawler that sank off Russia's Kamchatka peninsula, and showed sincere sympathies to the relatives of the victims".[16]
  •  Kazakhstan: Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev "personally and on behalf of all the Kazakhstanis expressed condolence to the families of the deceased and wished the soonest recovery to the injured."[17]
  •  United States: The United States embassy in Moscow said in a statement: "It is terrible to see how many human lives this tragedy has taken".[14]
  •  Seychelles: Seychelles President James Michel expressed the condolences of the people of Seychelles, remarking in a statement: "The government and people of Seychelles join me in expressing our heartfelt sympathies and deepest condolences to the people of Russia and the families of the victims following this tragic loss of human life".[18]
  •  Myanmar: Myanmar (Burmese) authorities stated that it was extremely unlikely that the Myanmar nationals (who made up almost a third of the crew) were legally employed by Magellan LLC. U Kyaw Htin Kway, general secretary of the Myanmar Overseas Employment Agency Federation, said "Myanmar does not send workers to fishing boats. If they are illegal then they won’t get insurance or compensation. It is a problem.”[19] Two of the recruitment agencies responsible for sending seamen aboard the admitted they falsifying workers’ registration cards.[20]


  1. "Dozens dead as trawler sinks in Russia’s far east". The Washington Post. Retrieved 1 April 2015. 
  2. Big reefer trawler Dalniy Vostok sank in Okhotsk sea, 43 dead, 24 missing - Maritime Bulletin
  3. Part of the pre-dissolution Baltiyskiy Zavod Production Association.
  4. "Stende". Wellington NZ: R B Haworth. Retrieved 5 April 2015. 
  5. Zelko, Frank S. Make It a Green Peace!: the Rise of Countercultural Environmentalism. Oxford University Press, 2013.
  6. "Massive rescue operation searches frigid water after Russian trawler sinks in 15 minutes — drowning 56". Associated Press. National Post. Retrieved 3 April 2015. 
  7. "At least 56 killed as Russian trawler sinks in icy seas Lidia Kelly, Reuters, Retrieved Apr 2, 2015
  8. "'Far East' sunk by greed and carelessness", Maria Pashenkova, Xenia Uglanov, Stanislav Mukhin, Anton Araslanov, Christina Oleinik, Paul Sviridov, retrieved 3 April 2015, Komsomol'skaja Pravda
  9. "At least 56 dead as Russian trawler with 132 aboard sinks in Sea of Okhotsk". RT (TV network). Retrieved 2 April 2015. 
  10. "54 dead after trawler sinks off Russia's Kamchatka Peninsula", CNN, Ed Payne, Retrieved 2 April 2015
  12. "54 perish in fishing trawler tragedy in Sea of Okhotsk". The Siberian Times. Retrieved 2 April 2015. 
  13. Onyanga-Omara, Jane. "At least 56 dead after Russian trawler sinks". USA Today. Retrieved 2 April 2015. 
  14. "Death Toll in Sinking of Russian Ship Rises to at Least 56". The New York Times. Retrieved 2 April 2015. 
  15. "Armenian President extends condolences to Vladimir Putin". Panorama>>AM. Retrieved 2 April 2015. 
  16. "Xi extends condolences to Russia over fishing trawler sinking". Retrieved 4 April 2015. 
  17. "Nazarbayev expresses condolence over Russian trawler". Tengri News. Retrieved 5 April 2015. 
  18. "Seychelles President Michel sends condolences to Russia after trawler tragedy". Seychelles News Agency. Retrieved 3 April 2015. 
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