3 Missing In Capsize At N.Y. Port

Rescuers launch a boat on the Hudson River near the capsized Dutch cargo ship Stellamare to search for three missing crew members at the Port of Albany in Albany, N.Y. Wednesday, Dec. 10, 2003. The rescue boat belongs to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. AP

Divers searched Wednesday for three missing Russian crew members of a Dutch cargo ship that turned on its side in the frigid Hudson River, sending eight others overboard, officials said.

The ship turned partly on its side Tuesday, and eight of the 18-person crew went overboard and were pulled from the river. Two crew members were hospitalized for hypothermia, and seven others were rescued from the ship, some by helicopter.

One crew member listed in critical condition was upgraded to serious at a hospital Tuesday night. Another was in fair condition.

Divers returned Wednesday to search for the missing crew members, who were believed to be in the ship's hull. No sound had been heard from within the vessel, however, and Detective James Miller said it was also possible they had fallen overboard into the partially frozen river.

The ship is a Stellamare, part of a fleet of 11 heavy-lift vessels ships belonging to Netherlands-based Jumbo Shipping Co. Jumbo officials said the crew was Russian.

"We fear for the lives of the missing crew members as the water temperature is very low. Our prayers and thoughts are with them and their loved ones," Jumbo Shipping spokesman Arnold Van der Heul said.

The company identified the missing crewmen as Y.A. Akofin, 48; S.A. Khasenevich, 43; and V. Alexeev, 46. Hometowns were not immediately available.

Van der Heul said that while experts were headed to the scene, it was too early to tell how the ship will be righted.

"I guess it will take a couple of days before it comes clear what will happen," he said.

He said families of the missing crew members have been notified.

The ship had loaded 661 tons of steel turbines bound for Italy and Romania. The turbines may have shifted, but on Wednesday Coast Guard Commander John Cameron said the ship was at only 20 percent of its capacity, and its ballast should have kept it stable.

He said the investigation will now focus on whether the ballast was properly managed. Crew members also will be interviewed about other possible causes, he said.

Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings said rescuers monitored the situation overnight using sound equipment, but did not hear anything coming from inside the hull that warranted sending divers into the vessel. The mayor said the ship's stability is a major concern in sending divers.

The 289-foot ship remained on its side, tethered to the dock at a sharp angle.

Jumbo Shipping Co. hired salvage divers who used a small boat Wednesday morning to see if the ship was stable.
  • Glenn Minnis

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