Cargo ship CDRY BLUE grounded by storm at West Sardinia, Italy

Probably bottom smashed, that looks like a total loss.



The 'CDRY BLUE", enroute from Cagliari to Alicante with an ETA as of Dec 23, 2019, ran aground with a cargo of coffee in the evening of Dec 21 at 11.30 p.m. at the south-west coast of Sardinia in Torre Cannai in the Municipality of Sant’Antioco.

The ship had just left Cagliari but at Sant’Antioco, the captain, given the bad weather and sea conditions, decided to return to the port. During the maneuver to turn back, the ship was hit by strong waves and ended up on the rocks.

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I do not understand the behavior of this captain; it was an Italian ship, supposedly ‘knowing’ some domestic things…

There was one of the strongest ‘Tramontane’ of the year (the storm-wind from the Biscay, coming along the Pyrenees into the Lion Gulf, and continuing to the Strait of Sicily). Many ships were waiting at anchor on the lee side off SE-Sardinia.

With this weather, the SW-corner of Sardinia is known for it its heavy northwesterly winds, deflected by the high island, and the therefore confusing seas. The Mediterranean has very short and often crossing seas, dangerous for small vessels (108 meters) like this.

The captain decided to leave the wave-protected waters off Cagliari to go westwards into the heavy seas from NW. I don’t know how far he went off Sardinia into the western Mediterranean, my picture shows only the return path to East.

Then he did something crazy: Instead of going SE to the protected Golfo di Palmas (East of Sant’Antioco island), he tried to find shelter in the Canale di San Pietro!

Behind the flat San Pietro island is no shelter from the storm… and no possible anchorage. Bauxite bulkers can access Porto Vesme in the channel, but only from the North and through tortuous deepwater ways, in rather calm seas and with mandatory pilotage; out of these ways it is plenty plenty of rocks.

He finally discovered this, and turned around San Pietro island. Then he tried to reach the protection of the Golfo di Palmas.

It seems, he could not stay far enough off Sant’Antioco island, in the heavy westerly and northwesterly seas. One mile north of the savior Capo Sperone (>S of Sant’Antioco) he went on the rocks.


Indeed it’s hard to make any sense of this. Why didn’t he head for the bay of Cagliari on the first go? Maybe he wanted to anchor closer to his destination?

Why? You’d think he was afraid to put his beam so close to the seas, and took a more comfortable heading. However, he made his turn at pretty much the worst possible point NW of San Pietro, right where bottom shelves up and the current gets kicked off the point, and the preceding ride must have been something indeed. He then survived a hair raising close call when passing S of the island, which must have brought him far into the zone of reflected swell. He then snugged right up close to Sant Antioco island, and maintained a perfectly straight track into the point.

The only explanation that makes any sense to me is that local conditions differed from the norm.

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I cannot reproduce the past track on VesselFinder again; it is too far back now.

Seeing the course SW of San Pietro Island, I thought about an artificial liaison between two far away AIS points. No, zooming in, there were continuing AIS-points for the complete visible track. At the closest, the ship was 160 meters off the rocks of San Pietro Island.

I ignore why they sailed in a perfect straight line into disaster. The Isola del Toro LH, 5 miles South of Capo Sperone, was always visible to them (weather permitting).

Good that you could reconstruct the ship’s path, it explains a lot! That captain obviously didn’t invent the gun powder as we say here. There are a number of similarities between this ship and the supply vessel Bourbon Rhode who also bee lined into the eye of hurricane Lorenzo and so straight into disaster.

The second one is the neglect of the weather forecasts and the third proper voyage planning. The captain of the CDRY BLUE obviously had no plan B in case things went wrong. Instead the captain decided to go on some eerie sightseeing round tour through shallow waters and skimming and hugging the coastline at times. This grounding and probably loosing the ship was so unnecessary.

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His mentor at the Italian Maritime Academy may have been captain Francesco Schettino.


Smit Salvage has been charged to investigate the integrity of the ‘CDRY BLUE’ and the possibility to remove her as a ship, not as a wreck. In nearby ports the 37 meter tug ‘Falisca’ and the smaller utility boat ‘JIF Helios’ are waiting for now…

I looked at the AIS-signals during the last straight course down along Sant’Antioco Island.
Real straight course 146° at about 11 knots for the 6.8 NM.
Eight intermediate AIS-points distant about one mile.

The Course Over Ground at these exact points shows that they were really shaken:
138° > 163° > 140° > 158° > 150° > 130° > 154° > 169°

For me this looks like they were on autopilot by COG only, not to a preset waypoint; the autopilot did what it was asked for and steered a mean course (…or a human helmsman did this).

Then, the waves displaced the entire ship continuously to port, nearer to the rocks.

Under these conditions, I do not know if the Isola del Toro LH, 6 miles to the South, was useful or even visible on the bridge.
The southern part of Sant’Antioco Island is not inhabited and dark; without the even small crescent of the moon being up at this time, the upper coast (about +40 meters) was certainly not visible above the bad sea (…and Radar/bridge-GPS were probably out of order?).
Even the close call to San Pietro Island, before, may have the same origins…


I also had that idea. With a good working radar I cannot imagine that you wanted to sail that close to the shoreline in that kind of weather. I suppose that in their eagerness to round Cape Sperone to find the much needed shelter they were cutting it too close.

I am curious whether Smit Salvage will be successful in saving the ship. The bottom of the hull will be badly damaged especially by the slamming due to the force of the waves. Water will have entered the ship and will have mixed with the cargo of coffee. Pulling the ship of the rocks could result in a capsize due to loss of stability but maybe they have other plans. Smit Salvage has lots of experience so if anybody can do it they can.

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Yesterday morning a patrol boat of Circomare Sant’Antioco monitored the waters in the stretch of sea where the accident occurred, without finding traces of pollution. The Coast Guard aircraft “Manta 10-01” came to the same conclusion while flying over Cdry Blue, as did the Coast Guard divers at close range.

SMIT salvage company confirmed its intention to use a helicopter to integrate with the operations of the “Jif Helios” utility vessel, already deployed in the port of Sant’Antioco in recent days. Said helicopter landed today at Elmas airport.

The technicians of the company “Smit Salvage BV”, in charge of salvaging and securing the ship, together with the captain of the maritime district office of Sant’Antioco and the chief of the sub center Cagliari, reached Cdry Blue yesterday late in the morning on board Jif Helios. They carried out an inspection but were unable to take further action due to weather conditions that did not allow it. The activity was therefore was postponed until the weather has improved.

This evening, the optimism is gone.
The ship is surrounded by rocks, she was lifted over by the waves; salvage vessels cannot come nearby,

At first, they will empty all tanks. Then, cutting her in manageable pieces is now an option.

I doubted already from the beginning, seeing how solidly lodged the ship was on the rocks, whether the ship could be salvaged successfully.

The pollution-prevention plan calls for bunkers and other petroleum on board the CRDY Blue to be pumped into special containers on deck. When filled, the containers will be flown off by helicopter. The process is expected to take several days; once defueling is complete, attention will turn to lightering off the ship’s cargo and the salvage of the vessel herself.


One spill response vessel and two patrol boats are standing by at the scene to monitor for signs of pollution. The Guardia Costiera has conducted multiple dive surveys of the seabed under the CRDY Blue’s hull to monitor her condition.

One method to salvage the ship is to make use of ship salvage airbags which will float the ship and lift over the rocky shoals.



Marine Salvage Airbags are very small in size when deflated, and are lightweight. They can be easily transported and deployed. Therefore buoyancy airbags can achieve substantial cost reduction. Also airbags are able to produce 30 tons of net buoyancy per ton of rubber vs. 2 tons of net buoyancy using steel buoyancy tank.


The utility vessel ‘JEF Helios’ can come along the wrecked ‘CDRY Blue’ with her draft of 3.1 m and in calm seas. The emergency tug ‘Falisca’, with a draft of 5.6 meters, returned to Sicily without doing anything.
Today, there is a Mistral/Tramontane from NW and 4 meter waves; everybody is in port.

The small products tanker ‘FT Quinto’ (120 meters), yesterday, went from S-Sardinia to Spain. Some 40 miles W of Sardinia the Mistral came in and she returned to Sardinia, to the Golfo di Palmas, E of Sant’Antioco Island, She is now there, at anchor in wave-protected waters.
She did not loose time to search an obviously non-existent shelter behind San Pietro Island…

An underwater recording of the grounded ship. No coffee beans in sight…

Yesterday, the utility vessel ‘JIF Helios’ went from the port of Sant’Antioco westwards to Italy’s 12NM border… and then returned to port.
They probably took some of the coffee beans to serve the international fish a real Italian espresso.

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The Jif Helios is a Multicat utility vessel designed and built by Damen Shipyard and operated by the French Jifmar Offshore Service located at Aix-en-Provence. Presently inactive and moored.

The utility vessel JIF Helios was today for some hours back at the position of the CDRY Blue. At 14.45 UTC the vessel is seen proceeding to its berth again.

The containers with bunker fuels and other liquid substances, when filled, will be flown off by helicopter. The process is expected to take several days once operation is complete the attention will then turn to lightering off the ship’s cargo (coffee) and the salvage of the vessel herself.

One spill response vessel and two patrol boats are standing by at the scene to monitor for signs of pollution.

As often, there is probably a crowd of people from different state agencies, on their own boats or Zodiacs, looking for errors of the only true worker.

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