Authorities investigate Raptor tragedy

Greek maritime authorities are investigating the circumstances surrounding the loss of the freighter Raptor (IMO 8212350), which went down in bad weather on Sunday November 26th off Lesbos.

The vessel had a history of serious deficiencies, but the circumstances leading up to the sinking have also raised questions.

The Raptor sank shortly after making a distress call. Only one crewmember, the chief engineer, was rescued. He told the Greek authorities that the vessel had been in distress for a day before the distress call was made, and that the crew had been attempting to bail out flooding. “We were trying with buckets, and whatever other means we had on board, to get the water out, to empty it. At some point, the boat punctured, began to take a dangerous slope, and then I jumped into the sea. Then I saw another four to five others jump into the water, but I never saw them again,” the engineer told Greek outlet Ta Nea.

The delay between the ship being in trouble and a distress call being made, allied with its age, has led the Greek Coast Guard to suspect that the Raptor may have been involved in smuggling or another form of illicit activity.

The timeline indicated that the captain delayed making a distress call, with the ship ceasing movement at 03:00, restarting, then halting again at 07:15. It sank at 08:20, shortly after the mayday call.

The vessel also had a history of meeting up with other ships under way, which is unusual behaviour for a bulk carrier.

The Raptor was a 6,300-tonne yard-and-stay geared general cargo ship. Recent photos had shown that its gear was removed at some point after 2014. The vessel had 65 problems recorded during an 18-day detention in Romania in August 2023.

The EU’s border protection agency Frontex joined the search for 12 crew members missing The body of an Egyptian member of the crew was recovered by Malta-flagged 2008-built 38,332 gt container ship CMA CGM Aliaga (IMO 9323039), which was assisting in the search. The ship had a crew of 14, including eight Egyptians, four Indians and two Syrians.

1984-built, Comoros-flagged, 4,294 gt Raptor is owned by Manassa2 M Shipping Ltd care of Manassa 2M Shipmanagement Co of Alexandria, Egypt. It is managed by Cedar Marine Services SAL of Tripoli, Lebanon.