Author Topic: The Sinking of the M/V Mikhail Lermontov in 1986  (Read 433 times)

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Offline W1RC

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The Sinking of the M/V Mikhail Lermontov in 1986
« on: February 25, 2021, 05:42:59 AM »
I have been researching this incident since learning about it recently.  It is an incredible story of incompetence, tragedy, bravery and Cold War intrigue. 

Back in the 1970s the Soviet passenger liner M/V Mikhail Lermontov, owned by the Baltic Shipping Company, and one of its’ sister ships, the Aleksandr Pushkin, used to call at the Port of Montreal where I was residing at the time. 
I had been aboard both these vessels on several occasions.  These ships were two of the five large passenger liners that were built to the same design in Wismar, East Germany, named after Soviet poets and originally used on the Leningrad—New York run.  The M/V Lermontov was the last of the five to be launched and considered to be “the jewel in the crown”.  It entered service in 1973.
However ten years later, the Soviet government realized that there was more money to be made by converting them to cruise ships so accommodation and facilities on board were significantly upgraded in 1982 to meet the expectations of western customers.
Recently I learned that the M/S Lermontov had sunk during a cruise off the coast of New Zealand in February 1986 with 743 passengers and crew aboard.  It could have been a disaster of Titanic proportions.  However, miraculously, only one soul, an engineering crew member, was lost in the incident.
As I began to research the story I found it fascinating and continued to do more research and found this excellent full-length documentary which I would like to share with you all.

https://www.nzonscreen.com/title/destination-disaster-2008

More references:

http://www.nzmaritime.co.nz/lermontov.htm

https://www.nzgeo.com/stories/the-last-cruise-of-mikhail-lermontov/

https://petemesley.com/lust4rust/63-mikhail-lermontov/history

https://my.christchurchcitylibraries.com/mikhail-lermontov/

https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/89698643/earthquake-creates-new-dive-chances-on-sunken-soviet-ship-mikhail-lermontov

Today the M/V Mikhail Lermontov rests where it sank at Port Gore, lying on its’ starboard side at depths ranging from 12 to 36 meters and is one of the largest diver accessible shipwreck in the world. The M/V Lermontov wreck is a popular “dive” with enthusiasts from all over who take guided excursions given by local companies in Picton and Kaikoura.   However three divers have died when they became disoriented and could not find their way out of the wreckage before their air ran out.  One luckless diver’s body was never recovered.  He is believed to still be in the wreckage somewhere along with the remains of the engineer who was trapped in the engine room when the watertight doors were closed. ......

Enjoy!

73,

MrMike, W1RC
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