Russian nuclear-powered ship stranded off Canaries as ill captain is airlifted

The nation press services
2020-12-17 | Since 4 Month

A Russian nuclear-powered cargo ship is limping through the Canary Islands’ waters after its propeller was damaged and its captain was airlifted with suspected meningitis.

The Sevmorput, once destined for the scrap heap, has had to turn around and abandon its attempted trip to Antarctica, Russian state nuclear agency Rosatom said.

The mechanical failure, meaning the ship is sailing at just 10 knots, and the captain's sickness are unconnected but add to the ship’s woes on a troubled voyage.

Environmentalists are concerned it will not be able to make it to its home port as winter storms threaten the journey from northern Africa to St Petersburg, Russia.


The ship, with a broken propeller, had been slowly sailing through the Canary Islands off North Africa when the captain fell ill.

FleetMon, a site that tracks the world’s vessels for shipping companies, said the ship’s captain was lifted off the ship by a Spanish maritime rescue helicopter and taken to a hospital in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, for treatment.

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Spain’s merchant navy command contacted the vessel to confirm its seaworthiness. The ship responded, saying its machinery and mechanical equipment “work properly”, and that there “has not been any incident or breakdown of nuclear equipment on board.” It also said the crew were waiting for weather to improve “in transit areas”.

French environmental group Robin Hood expressed concern about Sevmorput's route, noting that it would pass 14 European countries on its way to St Petersburg.

There was "no co-ordinated plan between EU countries to prevent the floating nuclear power plant from drifting," or for arranging another port for the vessel to dock, Robin Hood added.

The Sevmorput, Russia’s only active nuclear-powered cargo ship, is 260 metres long and 32 metres wide, with a usual top speed of 19.5 knots.

In 2012, the ship was going to be scrapped but it was refitted and returned to service in 2016.

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