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Wednesday, 4 May 2016

The Russians Are Coming Part II (- They Came):

On 16 February 1986 - 100 years after the Great New Zealand Russian Scare - 742 people from a Russian ship landed on New Zealand.

The Russian Cruise Ship MS Mikhail Lermontov ripped her steel hull open on rocks near Port Gore in the Marlborough Sounds and sank. - All on board were saved except for one crew member.

The New Zealand pilot Captain Don Jamison was also the Harbourmaster at Picton - where the ship had sailed from, - carrying mostly retired Australian passengers and he steered the ship inshore attempting a short-cut - despite a Russian officer questioning his course.

Thanks to the efforts of local rescue vessels all but one on board were rescued.

Good looking ship eh - 576 foot long - below is what she looks like now on underwater sonar:

The Mikhail Lermontov is now a popular dive spot - but sad to say even more people have now died on her - as four SCUBA divers have since lost their lives while exploring the wreck.


The kiwi pilots decision that caused the wreck is inexplicable.

- There were rumoured to be KGB agents on board watching the crew etc. - so there might be some relic firearms to be found left on board in cabins eh.
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In October 2011 the MV Rena also tried to take a short-cut near Tauranga and ran aground on the Astrolabe Reef where she broke in two - spilling lots of oil. She too was in a hurry.
NZ Defence Forces Photo of 'RENA' Aground.

Originally (1990) called  'ZIM America' and registered in Haifa Israel - she later became the 'Andaman Sea' registered in Valletta, Malta - before becoming the 'Rena'  in 2010 registered in Monrovia, Liberia.

Owned by Diana Shipping Company - a subsidiary of  Greek shipping company 'Costamare Inc.' she was chartered to the 'Mediterranean Shipping Company'  - but NZ Authorities managed to trace her back to responsible people and extracted millions of dollars compensation and insurance. By 2014 77% of the on-board cargo containers had been removed - leaving the rest to the fishes (and divers).

Marty K.