Tanker broke in two, sank or sinking, Mediterranean

Doesn’t look like it was built for offshore.



Looks like a bunker barge

It seems, the ‘Lady Sandra’ was at anchor in the busy anchorage East of Malta, where always many vessels are waiting for better times. It is one of the few Mediterranean anchorages outside the 12-miles-zone.

The vessels at anchor are ‘real’ ships, not like this tiny river/near coastal ship. She is not a bunker barge for the vessels at anchor; she arrived there from the Black Sea.

At the time of leaving the anchorage: Wind 30 knots ESE, sea 3.5 meter from ESE.
She probably dragged the anchor and went NW, then the anchor must have found hold; she stayed on place until the late evening.

Meanwhile the wind changed to 30 knots WNW. The crew of 3 was removed.
Then she split in two; the bow section maybe still at anchor…
The stern half, with the bridge and the AIS, drifted to SE until the next morning at 2.5 knots, when she went down.

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Looks like a Lower Danube fuel barge to me, or maybe an Upper Danube / Rhine barge with the hi-lo wheelhouse mechanism removed. There are several design cues that make me quite certain that she came out of one of the inland yards, such as the lines of the deck hand quarters-cum-generator room at the bows, and the general arrangement aft. Look at how she hogs in that picture on vessel finder…

Anyone know where I can find further history on the vessel? If someone actually got stupid enough to take an inland motor vessel into open waters, I’m curious how it came about.


Of course river barges are not built for open seas! I hope any underwriters pay nothing.

Definitely lost track…

Absolutely unclear how this inland tanker got to sail in Mediterranean, and who allowed this river ship to navigate high seas, even if she was deployed for bunkering only.

That’s all i found:
Zooming-in on VesselFinder’s picture of ‘Lady Sandra’, the ship’s name is ‘Zaanstroom’.
I ignore whether this is her former name or it is the picture of a sister-ship.

The same confusion is here, with more pics:


A German site has more (in German):

Partial extract by GoogleTranslate >>>

The ship was the former Dutch inland tanker ‘Zaanstroom’. It had apparently entered the Black Sea via the Danube. On December 10th, 2019 he moored in Sulina and stayed there for the following weeks.On January 31 he had run into the Bosphorus and on 6.2. Istanbul reached. From there he had headed for the waters of the Mediterranean.

There were speculations that he should have subsequently reached the Atlantic from the Strait of Gibraltar with a destination in Africa. According to other information, it was intended to be used as a bunker tanker in Malta. The ship, previously located in Geertruidenberg, had a length of 89.80 meters, a width of 9.50 meters, a draft of 2.52 meters and was built in 1974 at the Dutch shipyard Heermans Hedel for Sluijs Oliehandel BV in Raamsdonksveer. In 2009, the ship went to Interstream Barging BV in Geertruidenberg without changing its name. The owner was Britannia Shipping Ltd. since 2014 (J. O’Connor) in Marsascala.

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Here follows some information from a Dutch Inland Waterway website.

A few years ago the Zaanstroom was boarded up in Rotterdam ready to be towed to Nigeria but this was changed and the ship was opened again and then went up the Rhine on its own and so on to the Danube. There the ship lay in Romania, out of the water, for months during which time it was for sale.

The Zaanstroom was sold April 2019 to Panafric Ocean & Energy ltd in Lagos Nigeria who stood as owner and manager of this Lady Sandra. It was for sale again for about two years and then obviously sold to a Maltese company.

See also this link with lots of pictures. Note what it says on top of the webpage: She is ready to work. She is built for inland rivers, not coastal or open ocean… In most countries a ship like this would never have been allowed to go out to sea but in Romania this isn’t a problem.


In sea going the upward force changes locally due to the wave pattern. This occurs most strongly when the wavelength is equal to the length of the ship, the so-called standard wave. In this case, if the wave trough is amidships, there will be additional deflection and additional deflection with a wave crest. Depending on the flat water condition of the ship, one of the two situations will put additional stress on the ship. This must be taken into account in the design. Classification societies use empirical formulas to determine the wave bending moments.

The structure may already have been fractured by small loads when they are repeated regularly .The fracture happens because of fatigue. Fatigue doesn’t have a great effect in the case of Dutch inland rivers because there are no waves, therefore the structure is subjected only to cyclic loads resulted from the machinery which could be neglected in that case. So wave-induced bending stresses, dynamic stresses and stresses due to horizontal bending moment don’t affect the structure in the case of the Dutch rivers because there are no waves of any importance…

However, the Zaanstroom was designed for these Dutch river condtions and not for ocean conditions. This is reflected in the longitudinal strength of such ships which is quite insufficient for use in sea water with constant bending, sagging and hogging, due to almost continuous wave action. In combination with probable fatigue this is a recipe for disaster, breaking in two. It is just a matter of time that this will happen. I am sure that cracks were already visible and giving away the danger the ship was in but then you have to know what to look for and where…

And then there is also the possibility of corrosion to be considered.

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When the wind reversed in the evening, it probably was too much for the boat.

30 knots of wind against 3.5-meter significant waves can easily produce extremely steep maximum waves of 6 meters.

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Improper ballast distribution may have contributed as well.


Improper ballasting can cause what Dutch mariners call a cat’s arched back (katterug).

The forward half of the ship was still afloat. By the looks of it the ship was fully loaded/ballasted.

Having crew sleeping quarters in such a forward position is normal for inland waterway ships but not allowed for ocean going ships. Another reason why it shouldn’t be there. It is clear that also the Maltese authorities donot care about such trivialities.

In contrast with the forward spartan sleeping quarters is the often luxurious accommodation aft of the skipper and his family.

On the Rhine River, I see the ships coming from Holland always very, very low in the water; when they leave downstream and empty, they are always very high.

Do these ships have (or need) significant ballast tanks; beyond the necessity to keep them upright after taking cargo on board?

Inland waterway ships have ballasttanks same as ocean going ships. Rotterdam is a large transit port so the cargo goes upstream into the mainland of Europe which means that they are deep in the water. An empty ship, thus high in the water, going downstream is faster and uses less fuel.

The first ship in the table has in a loaded condition a speed of 14 km/h and empty 16 km/h. The fuel used is respectively 60 ltr/h and 50 ltr/h, that is 16.7% less fuel while the ship’s speed is larger. For a large part this is explained by the fact that with an empty ship there is less water resistance.

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Don’t know much about tankers but presumably they would require ballast with no cargo to keep prop and rudder in the water deep enough? Same as a bulker? Maybe some ballast in the aft peaks to keep the stern in some in the forepeak tank to keep the bow down?

Maybe get away with it OK on the river.



Somewhat later the aft ship sank while forward part was still afloat.

Does seem like improper stress was put on the vessel at one or more than few times. Whether hogging or sagging, not good. The weather certainly didn’t help matters for what this vessel was designed for. Owners/Operators made a big booboo in chartering.

The ship was built for flat water circumstances on rivers. The longitudinal strength was not prepared for sea wave conditions with continuous bending and twisting. Nobody seemed to have realized this. It was just a matter of time…