Deadly ‘Samina’ Sinking Haunts Greece 18 Years Later

Express Samina was a French-built passenger ferry boat. It was built in 1966 and during its 34 years of service changed many owners as well as routes in the Mediterranean Sea.

It was September 26, 2000 when Express Samina, owned by Greece’s Minoan Flying Dolphins, left for its route between Paros, Naxos, Ikaria, Samos, Patmos and Lipsi islands in the Aegean Sea.

The ferry departed from the port of Piraeus with 533 people on board, 472 passengers, and 61 crew members.

Around 22:12 local time, Express Samina approached the port of Parikia of the island of Paros, with very strong winds of 8 Beaufort raging.

The Portes islets off the bay of Parikia which the ship collided with

2 nautical miles off the port of Parikia, the ship hit the reef of Portes islets at a speed of 18 knots. A crack of about three meters in length appeared in the right hull of the ship.

Water flooded the ship forcing it to quickly tilt to the right and eventually sink within just 25 minutes, leaving only a few minutes for the passengers to get prepared.

The first who reached the point to help were fishing boats from the nearby ports, followed by the port authorities and the British Royal Navy vessels, which were in the area carrying out a NATO exercise.

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 and as a result, dozens lost their lives fighting with the waves. In total, 81 people lost their lives in the accident.

Map of the collision course of Express Samina

As a result of the sinking, Greece’s laws changed, forcing ferries to retire after 30 years, instead of 35 but these laws were eventually relaxed again due to the aging Greek fleet.

On 29 November 2000, Pandelis Sfinias, Minoan Flying Dolphins’ manager, committed suicide by jumping from the sixth floor of his office’s window. He had been charged with criminal negligence and had been the focus of Greece’s media attention.

Many of the crew members, as well as representatives of the owners, were charged with criminal charges, among which negligence and manslaughter.