The route of the Minoan Lines Flying Dolphin passenger ferry “Express Samina”, was Piraeus – Paros – Naxos – Ikaria – Samos – Patmos – Lipsi. The ship’s final journey was on September 26, 2000.
On the evening of September 26, 2000, the ferry departed from the port of Piraeus with 533 people on board, 472 of whom were passengers, and the remaining 61 were crew members. Around 22:12 the ship approached the port of Parikia, with winds of 8 Beaufort raging. Two miles off Paros, the boat struck at the islets “Portes” at 18 knots, resulting in a crack in the right hull of the ship, about three meters in length, at the base of the right blade of stability. Water flooded the ship’s engine room, forcing it to quickly tilt to the right and eventually sink within 25 minutes.
Panic overtook the passengers as a power failure caused a blackout. Neither the emergency generator, nor the emergency siren operated, and there was no information from the portable loudspeakers of the ship. Many people jumped blindly into the sea. Initially, the information communicated to the Ministry of Merchant Marine operations room did not describe the gravity of the situation. It took a while before the Paros Port Authority ordered all ships to rush to the “Samina” site. Coast guard boats, fishermen boats and a British NATO then arrived to the point of the shipwreck and started the rescue operation. Many of the survivors were transferred to the Paros health center. Eighty-one people drowned.
After a 12-month investigation, the appointed experts submitted their report to the authorities. Specifically: 1) The handling of the bridge watch crew even a few minutes before the impact was insufficient to avoid collision. Approximately 15 minutes before impact, the ship, in the absence of safe navigation rules, combined with the adverse weather conditions that prevailed, and out of its proper course, sailed on autopilot under the responsibility of the bridge watch crew, and the precise location was not known to the chief mate.
2) It was the responsibility of the master and captain to ensure that the watertight doors were hermetically sealed; which in breach of the safety certificate, were all open.
3) After the crash, the engine room officers did not promptly notify the captain of the fault, failing to close three out of the 11 watertight doors, resulting in the rapid inflow of water inside the vessel . The master’s notification delay was 8-10 minutes.
4) The emergency siren for the abandonment of the ship and relevant information from the ship’s loudspeakers were not used under the responsibility of the master, and there was no guidance from crew to organize the evacuation of the ship.
5) Many life buoys were not equipped with signposts and did not have whistles.
6) Shortly after impact the ship sank in the dark, as the emergency generator had ceased to work within a few minutes after the crash.
7) Failure to transmit the position of the shipwreck, resulting in the difficulty of search and rescue operations under the responsibility of the master and the ship’s radio operator.
Shipowner Pantelis Sfinias committed suicide after the shipwreck. First engineer Anastasios Sorokas had resigned on September 19, claiming that the ship was old, had serious problems due to lack of maintenance, and should not be sailing.