Bow Mariner: Just a question of time

Captain given brunt of blame in ship disaster
By JACK DORSEY, The Virginian-Pilot, January 3, 2006

NORFOLK ­ A Coast Guard investigation into the explosion and sinking of the chemical tanker ship Bow Mariner off the Virginia coast nearly two years ago has disclosed that the captain abandoned ship without sending a distress call or trying to save his crew.

While unable to pinpoint what sparked the explosion that led to the deaths of 21 of the 27 men aboard, the investigation also faults the captain for violating safety guidelines when he ordered vapor-filled cargo tanks opened for cleaning while the ship was en route to Houston.

Capt. Efstratios Kavouras' order to open 22 tanks that previously held methyl tert butyl ether "was a stunningly significant breach of normal safe practices for a tank ship and defies explanation or excuse," according to one of 20 conclusions by Coast Guard investigators.

The report, obtained by The Virginian-Pilot through a Freedom of Information Act request, further concluded that the crew was poorly trained in safety procedures and that friction between the ship's Greek officers and Filipino crew members contributed to the death toll.

Much more at

Here is the USCG report about the tragedy.