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Monday, November 21, 2016 13:06
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After the defeat of the Workers Reich the United States, Britain and Soviet Union notoriously thieved everything they could lay their hands on. The Allies motto; ‘if it moves steal it; if it can’t be moved, blow it up’.

Ships can be moved: In November 2015 Renegade Tribune carried The Curse of the Monte Rosa news story. Before England’s war this luxurious Reich liner provided state-subsidised Mediterranean peacetime cruises for German workers.

On May 8, 1945, Germany’s overwhelmed armed forces, not their government, surrendered. The SS Monte Rosa was then claimed by Britain as prize of war. The story of the liner’s fate doesn’t have a happy ending.

Renamed Empire Windrush the pilfered German liner was put to use in transporting cheap labour from Jamaica and the East Indies to undercut costs of British workers. In 1954, whilst evacuating British troops and their families from the Korean peninsula, Empire Windrush sank in the Mediterranean after suffering a voyage from hell.

Once is a coincidence, twice is karma. The Soviets were as voracious as were Britain and the U.S.  Soviet plunder included the German-built transatlantic liner SS Berlin III. This super liner, after providing German workers with affordable Mediterranean cruises, was converted into a hospital ship in July 1939. The great liner that had served Germany so well was during the last distressing months of the war was to heroically evacuate thousands of troops and civilians fleeing the rapacious Red Army.

SS Berlin III

Following Germany’s defeat the SS Berlin III was seized by the Soviets as prize of war. The allies call it ‘reparations’. Call it what you will from that moment on the great German liner was as cursed as was the Monte Rosa (Empire Windrush).

After repairs in Liverpool, presumably free of charge, the SS Berlin III was renamed by the Soviets and was called the Admiral Nakhimov. The former German cruise liner entered service for the Black Sea Steamship Company. This Soviet enterprise operated between Odessa and the Georgian port of Batumi. The liner’s cruise career was briefly interrupted during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. Then, the Admiral Nakhimov was used to transport troops to the Caribbean island; these passengers were said to be harvest workers; armed with hammers and sickles no doubt.

Admiral Nakhimov

Back on the booze cruises for those who served the regime well the stolen liner, the largest in the Soviet fleet, was destined to meet its fate. On August 31, 1986 Admiral Nakhimov left Novorossiysk for Sochi. This was to be the liner’s last voyage; only the breaker’s yard lay ahead. On-board were 888 (go figure) passengers and 346 crew members.

The liner’s voyage was marred by the inexplicable poor seamanship of its hapless skipper, Vadim Markhov. Even more bemusing was the collision course being taken by the approaching bulk carrier, Pyotr Vasev as it to traversed Tsemes Bay. It is not so much a long story but a sad tale of confused signals being relayed between the unfortunate Admiral Nakhimov’s second mate Alexander Chudnovsky on the bridge.

Soviet Bulk Carrier Pyotr Vasev

The cruise liner’s Captain Vadim Markhov retired to his cabin but it isn’t certain which cabin; one not his own. This was a bizarre thing to do. Even a deck-boy knows that ships captains do not usually leave the bridge when in busy port approaches. It is unforgivable to do so when an approaching Russian bulk carrier is on a collision course and behaving strangely.

Inevitably, there was a collision following which the badly holed prize of war sank; it did so in just seven minutes just before midnight. In total, 423 of the 1,234 passengers and crew lost their lives. The Soviet authorities disallowed news of the tragedy for two days. Today, the pride of the Reich’s Strength through Joy super liner lies in 150 feet of water in Tsemes Bay.

Both Captain Markhov and Captain Tkachenko who skippered the bulk carrier, were to face trial. The court’s 1987 finding was that both were equally culpable and both sentenced to 15-years in prison. Both skippers were pardoned and released just five-years into their sentences. Why? Your guess is as good as mine.

Interestingly, Captain Viktor Tkachenko, who skippered the bulk carrier that rammed the passenger liner, changed his name to Talor, which was his Jewish wife’s name. Captain Viktor Talor nee-Tkachenko took up permanent residence in Israel.

The story still doesn’t have a happy ending or does it?. In September 2003 Jewish Captain Viktor Tkachenko skippered a yacht that foundered off Newfoundland’s coast. The crew and passengers bodies were recovered. These included the corpse of the ill-fated bulk carrier’s skipper, Viktor Tkachenko. The worst captain in Soviet maritime history was buried in Tel Aviv, Israel. Perhaps he should have been better known as Captain Karma.



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