On February 16th the Polish-flagged tug Kuguar collided with the Transforza, which was just about to depart from port at about 10 p.m. embarking on a voyage from Swinoujscie to Szczecin. The tug vessel sank and the 5-man crew landed in the water.
The pilot boat Pilot 63 arrived on the scene of the accident in less than three minutes time as the vessel’s crew scrambled on their sinking tug’s bow.
Along with it, the ferry Wawel joined the rescue operation and lowered her rescue boat, as well as illuminating the port channel.
Image of Transforza: Dieter Kroepelin
At 10.22 p.m. the SAR boat managed to also reach the site of the accident.
The first seafarer had remained in the water for less than a minute. Two of the other crew members were saved within a total of two minutes. The rescue teams encountered some trouble with the saving of the fourth sailor as he was in a very strong current. They also experienced some difficulties getting the fifth crew member onto the SAR boat because he was already in a very weak state.
The team then found out that all of seafarers, with the exception a pilot who was not part of the crew, were intoxicated. The tug had suddenly turned to port side when arriving into Swinoujscie and was then struck by the cargo ship’s bow. Not long after that the tug foundered near Swinoujscie’s waterfront at the fairway Świnoujście-Szczecin in a water depth of 12 meters. Only the vessel’s mast remained above water level.
The wreck did not halt any of the port’s traffic. It was later determined that the 37-year old master, a mechanic along with two deck hands had an alcohol level ranging from 0.3 to 0.63 per mille. All of the crew members were then transported to the Swinoujscie hospital where they were later on interrogated. The captain was accused of operating a vessel while under the influence of alcohol. The Transforza, which at the time was transporting a cargo of paper, was thoroughly inspected at Szczecin where it docked on February 17th at about 4.40 a.m. According to reports weather conditions and visibility were very good in Świnoujście when the accident took place. Expectations are that the tug will be recovered within a week’s time by a sheerleg from Copenhagen.