Commemorating the 82 victims of “Express Samina” disaster and Pantelis Sfinias

 

New company in the Greek ferry scene, has a short and sad history. Founded at the end of 1998 season by the merger of Minoan Lines, Minoan Lines Highspeed and the biggest fleet of Aegean Sea, the Ceres Flying Dolphins of Livanos Family. The new fleet was composed by the entirely Ceres fleet, by Daedalus, Erotokritos and Fedra from Minoan Lines which were chartered back from the company to put them on Adriatic services, then by the Highspeed 1 from Minoan Lines Highspeed. The company oredered three new catamarans from Austal  with delivery 2000 and the summer services were the same of past years, with change of company name as the only innovation on “Flying Dolphins” and “Highspeed 1”. But, in in November 1999, the company started to buy the major part of greek ferries involved in domestic services: Agapitos Express Ferries, Agapitos Lines, Nomicos Lines, Arkadia Lines, Lindos Lines, Goutos Lines, the domestic ferries of Ventouris Ferries and Agoudimos Lines plus more small companies serving in the Saronikos Gulf and Sporades islands were taken over, creating a near monopoly in the domestic services. Then, also the 46% stake in G.A. Ferries was purchased, strenghtening this dominant position in the Greek market. So, on 2000 summer Hellas ferries was the only operator on Piraeus - Kithinos - Serifos - Sifnos - Kimolos - Milos route; faced only G.A. Ferries to Ikaria and Samos, the “Candia” of ANEK to Paros, Naxos, Ios, Santorini, Amorgos and Astypalea, the same situation from Rafina, facing the Blue Star Ferries’s “Superferry II”, another monopoly from Piraeus to Syros, Tinos and Myconos. This condition was interrupted on 26th September 2000 when the “Express Samina”, from Piraeus to Samos via Paros, Naxos and Ikaria hit the Portes island, three miles far from Paros and sunk causing 82 victims; some daus later the “Express Artemis” while entering at Naxos with 1.081 passengers on board had a black out. A consequence of these problems is the arrest of all Greek ships not complying the SOLAS terms in fact of fire extinguishing system: Minoan Flying Dolphins had all the ships under arrest except for “Express Afrodite”, “Express Poseidon” “Express Santorini”, the Highspeed catamarans and some little ships serving the Saronikos. But also Minoan Flying Dolphins was inquired by survivors of the “Express Samina” tragedy and victims’s relatives; in particular the “Express Samina” also made voyages without a seaworthness certificate (however, not at the moment of her sinking) and many inquiries were focusized on Mr Pantelis Sfinias, manager of the company: the public opinion accused her to have obtained many service licences because of his friendship with Greek Government members and the shareholders because of lacking value of stakes. These facts led Mr Sfinias to commit suicide on Wednesday 29th November 2000, throwing himself from the sixth floor of Agoudimos building, where G.A. Ferries and M.F.D had their offices. These facts leave an uncertain scenery on Greek ferry world; many operators obtained new operating licences for the Aegean, particularly Attica Enterprises with her companies Blue Star Ferries and Superfast Ferries, ANEK and NEL; Minoan Flying Dolphins is facing a very hard moment and also an end in their services seems possible, although they saved from bankruptcy many small operators. Plus of that it seems that the ministry would end the cabotage on 31/12/2002 instead of 31/12/2004 as stated by the European Union.

 

F/B Apollon Hellas

F/B Express Adonis

F/B Express Aphrodite

F/B Express Apollon

F/B Express Aris

F/B Express Artemis

F/B Express Athina

F/B Express Dionysos

C/M Express Haroula

F/B Express Hermes

F/B Express Milos

F/B Express Naias

F/B Express Olympia

M/N Express Penelope

F/B Express Poseidon

F/B Express Samina

F/B Express Santorini

C/M Highspeed 1

C/M Highspeed 2

C/M Highspeed 3

C/M Highspeed 4

 

 

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