Shipwreck S/S HEIMARA (ex Hertha)

Oldest people of Greek maritime have connected the name “S/S Heimara” to one of the biggest ship tragedies that occurred in the history of Greek shipping. This name recalls the sinking of the Greek passenger boat “S/S Heimara” at Evoikos waters after the Second World War. Except from the ship, 383 Greek people passed away. So, let’s see what the passenger ship “ S/S Heimara” that rests with great sorrow in the maritime family was. “S/S Heimara” was an old passenger ship that was constructed in 1905 at Stetiner Oderwerke of Stetinos. It had a volume of 1227 gross registered tonnage and 487 net registered tonnage, a length of 78 meters, a width of 10,20 meters and a depth of 5 meters. It carried two 224 NHP steam engines that were rolling two propellers giving to the ship a speed of 12 knots. The ex name of the ship was “Hertha” and in summer of 1946 was given to the Greek government having underwent repairs by the Germans. After some short restoration at Piraeus, the ship was named “S/S Heimara” on 9 September 1946 and it obtained a General Inspection Protocol that defined that, during winter, the total passenger amount would be 500 and, during summer, 600. At this time, it started making the route Piraeus – Thessaloniki. We have to note that this route was very important because the road network had many technical and safety problems due to the confused political situation.

Ship loss conditions

“S/S Heimara” on 18 January 1947 at 08.30, with the 52-year-old captain Spiridon Mpilinis and an 86-member crew sailed from Thessaloniki to Piraeus with 530 passengers; 286 were individuals and 244 military people. Because of the bad weather, the captain thought that it was better not to sail at the open Aegean Sea but to sail near Evia, passing along Chalkida. However, at that time, in the Greek seas there were minefields, so the risk of meeting mines was existing and devious. This is the reason why the route through North and South Evoikos bay had to be done by defined routes that were safe for shipping. The ship reached Chalkida at midnight of the same day and sailed to Piraeus at 01.30 on 19 January. Before leaving, 10 passengers were disembarked but there are no mentions concerning the names of these passengers. Having passed the narrow spots of the north side of the port, the ship was able to see Avlida and changed its normal speed to 110 revolutions, meaning 12 miles. The wind was north, of an average power and the weather was cold. The captain, Spiridon Mpilinis, said that, after giving the proper instruction to the watchkeeping officer, the Sub-lieutenant Athanasios Kanavas (watchkeeping between 12.00-04.00), he went to the map room and rested wearing his clothes. The journey was continuing normally until 04.00, when the predicted change of watchkeeping took place at the helmsman, the watchkeeping officer and the engine room. At the bridge, the staff captain Ioannis Mpertsis changed the Sub-lieutenant Kanavas, the sailor Christos Zoumpoulakis took the helm and the third engineer P. Mpogiatzidis was at the engine room. The latter, however, did not have the time to go downstairs at the engine room and the control of the engine over the third engineer D. Georgoudis. At 04.10, when at the watchkeeping of the bridge was Ioannis Mpertsis and the Sub-lieutenant A. Kanavas was still at the map room where the captain was resting, the ship was shaken strongly, the lights turned off, the helm stack holding a direction to the right and steams started to come out of the engine room. Then, there was a water inflow in ship’s bottom. The ship was sailing adrift, dragged by the wind and the currents and it sank after one hour and a half, at a distance of 1100 meters, 176 ° degrees from the lighthouse of Verdouchi island (between Agia Marina and Nea Stira) in a depth of almost 24 meters. In the dark and cold conditions and the hot steams that were coming out of the engine room, dramatic and tragic scenes took place in order for the passengers to be rescued. The final result of the rescued people was 189/530 passengers and 44/86 crew members. The passengers who passed away were 341 and 42 crew members, meaning a total loss of 383 people.

Sinking causes

The captain S. Mpilinis said that the sinking happened due to a mine, he had made a lot of times this route following the correct directions and he had given to the watchkeeping officer the proper instructions. The conditions of this journey were common and this is why he acted like this. Concerning the passenger’s composure, he said that he did the best he could under the existing conditions of dark and panic. Many of the passengers were military people and armed. The watchkeeping officer and Sub-lieutenant A. Kanavas said that he followed the defined route on the map and, during the explosion, the ship was located 2000 meters north-west of the edge of Agia Marina and almost 2,3-3 miles north of the rocky islet that is located north of Verdouchi island. He also said that, without doubt, the explosion happened due to a crash on a mine or due to an explosive device that was placed in the engine room or out of it stuck like a cupping-glass. Among the surveyors of the accident, there were two opinions: the one that agrees with the captain and the other one that is against it. The Inquiry committee of Maritime Accident Control and the Council did not accept the captain’s claims and they drew the conclusion that the ship was not sailing in the correct direction. It was sailing a direction of 140° degrees instead of 125°, a direction which should had taken when it could look at the north edge of Agia Marina, meaning a distance of 1,5 miles before the ship reached the lighthouse of the rocky islet Gaidaros. The fact that the ship did not change direction, led it onto the rocky islet. Also, the authorities drew the conclusion that the strong shake and the inflow took place because of the crash of the west side of the ship to the islet’s slope. Due to the strong and violent crash, the sheets that were removed caused the fault. The Inquiry committee of Maritime Accident Control conclusion did not accept that the ship crashed into a mine or the possibility of an explosive device existence. The Council’s opinion was also accepted by the minister E.N Theodoros Kizanis who, with the 15496/624 decision of the 26th March 1947, ordered the temporal deprivation of exercising the maritime profession from: a. the captain S. Mpilinis who could not work for 9,5 months because of serious negligence of his duties, b. the staff captain I. Mpertsis who could not work for 6 months because of negligence of his duties, c. the sub-lieutenant A. Kanavas who could not work for 1 month because of negligence of his duties, as well as from the engineers N. Drandakis (12 months), G. Papagiannopoulos (6 months) and P. Mpogiatzidis (6 months).

“S/S Heimara” journey

It is sure that the sub-lieutenant A. Kanavas was not careful about the ship’s route. Otherwise, we cannot explain the fact that he ordered a direction of 140 ° degrees without giving more details to the staff captain I. Mpertsis concerning the ship’s position. Also, we cannot explain the fact he could see from the bow the Verdouchi lighthouse light. So, it is obvious that, due to negligence, he thought that the ship had the right direction until the time he changed watchkeeping shift, whilst he had to change direction to 125° degrees in order to leave to the right Verdouchi lighthouse and pass near the rocky islet Gaidaros, so the ship still continues to be in the defined safe direction. It is sure that the sub-lieutenant was ignorant of the situation and he was not concerned, because if he was so, he would ask captain’s help. He could see the lighthouse from the bow, as he should, but after seeing the edge Kalamos, he should have turned the ship 125° to the left in order to be in the defined direction, leaving the two rocky islets and the lighthouse to the right. He simply forgot to see the map while he was doing his watchkeeping and realize that in front of the lighthouse there is the rocky islet Gaidaros. According to today criteria, his punishment of 1 month off work was too light, taking into account that he was the main responsible for this maritime tragedy. But really, the question is how a responsible for watchkeeping can be such negligent and indifferent for the conditions of ship’s journey that was carrying more than 600 people during night, sailing too close to coasts and rocky islets that disappear in the dark and mainly without any maritime aids (there was only a magnetic compass)? How is it possible that he did not see the map in order to get informed about the route? Concerning the captain, of course it is logical that it is not possible to be all the time at the bridge, but it is unacceptable that he had not trained properly his officers concerning the way of paying attention to the safety of the shipping and the passengers. With no doubt, he should had given specific instructions about the exact time of changing direction before go to rest. The question is how he could feel calm and how sure he was that the Sub-lieutenant would change direction? Did he really give this specific instruction? Concerning the staff captain, he was sure that the ship had the right direction. Obviously, he did not get informed and he did not read the map before go at the watchkeeping post. And, suddenly, he saw in front of him “Gaidaros” island. Although, he turned the helm to the left in order to avoid it, it was too late. The beginning for the end of “Heimara” had come. The left side of the ship was drugged on the rocks with speed and was removed. From this point, the excuses concerning the crash on a mine are the more plausible. However, As Greece is a maritime country, we have to admit that “Heimara” sinking is a black spot at Greek maritime history. And, of course, part of this tragedy is the people that passed away, the rescued ones and the hundreds of innocent passengers.

Dive team

Basilis Lamrou, Aristotelis Zervoudis, Kostas Thoktaridis, Antonis Grafas

Situation of the crew of Passenger boat “S/S Heimara”:

Antoniou Charalampos    Steward                Passed away
Apostolopoulos Nikolaos    Stoker    
Albanis K.            Steward                Passed away
Vacharidis Demetrios        Attendant
Vassilatos Antonios        Steward
Vatistas Nikolaos        Stoker
Vikelis Antonios        Responsible for coaling
Vatistas Ioannis        Sailor
Vilandos Ioannis        Sailor        
Vaggelakis Athanasios        Sailor
Vranas Ioannis            Steward                Passed away
Georgoulis Demetrios        Third Enginner        
Georgantas An.        First Cook            Passed away
Giannoulis Efstathios        Responsible for coaling
Drandakis Nikolaos        First Engineer        
Zabelis Kosmas        Steward                Passed away
Zouboulakis Christos        Sailor
Kanavas Athanasios        Sub-lieutenant
Kasvikis Konstantinos        Lieutenant
Kalogiannis Evangelos        Stoker
Kaminaris Andreas        Stoker                Passed away
Kandalidis Andreas        Stoker                Passed away
Kolias G.             Head Cook            Passed away
Korizis Antonios        Fourth Engineer        Passed away
Kolias Michail            Stoker
Koumiotis Anastasios        Greaser            Passed away
Kourkoulis I.             Saucepan Cleaner        Passed away
Kontonikolis Antonios        Steward    
Kontogouris Nikolaos        Steward
Kotseris Demetrios        Stoker
Kousiotis K.             Steward                Passed away
Koletsis Pan.             Steward                Passed away
Kostouros Pavlos        Stoker            
Liaroutsos Andreas        Accountant            Passed away
Laoudis Fotis            Head Steward            Passed away
Leontarakis Lampros        Sailor
Meksaris A.            Saucepan Cleaner        Passed away
Mavrakis E.             Steward                Passed away
Maratos I.             Assistant Attendant        Passed away
Meimenis Ch.             Second Cook        
Moundreas N.            Responsible for coaling    Passed away
Mpourtzis A.             Stoker
Mitropoulos I.            Accountant            Passed away
Mastrogiannis E.         Accountant            Passed away
Mpogiatzidis P.         Second Engineer        
Mpertsis I.            Staff Captain        
Mpilinis S.            Captain
Mpilinis P.            Attendant
Oikonomou A.            Sailor                Passed away
Panagos E.            Boatswain            Passed away
Panagos Th.            Sailor                Passed away
Passakos D.            Responsible for coaling    Passed away
Patralis P.            Sailor
Peripanos D.            Responsible for coaling    Passed away
Pedoussis M.            Wireless Operator        Passed away
Papagiannopoulos G.        Second Engineer        
Papaemanouil G.        Attendant
Pavlakis A.            Fourth Engineer
Pothitos N.            Junior Wireless Operator    Passed away
Pantazidis V.            Assistant Attendant        Passed away
Poulakis M.            First Cook
Pilakis P.             Steward
Profitis F.            Stoker
Pargas A.            Sailor                Passed away
Reglitis P.            Third Cook        
Reggos P.            Wireless Operator        Passed away
Siriggos A.            Head Stoker            Passed away
Salpeas A.            Stoker                Passed away
Skalitsos S.            Steward        
Spiropoulos E.            Steward            
Sideris G.            Steward            Passed away
Tzilos V.            Assistant Attendant        Passed away
Tselentis I.            First Cook
Tsagrakos D.            Greaser
Tsolntos Th.            Sailor                 Passed away
Tsolntos N.            Sailor                Passed away
Tselentis E.            Steward
Freris G.            Wireless Operator
Falireas Ch.            Attendant
Frilangas D.            Second Cook            Passed away
Fotinakos S.            Stoker                Passed away
Chaldeakis N.            Fourth Engineer            Passed away
Chrisochoos S.            Steward
Chronis S.            Head Steward                Passed away
Chedemenopoulos I.        Greaser                 
Chalolos K.            Responsible for coaling        Passed away

Total: 86                        Passed away: 42

Individual Passengers

Apostolidis Michail
Anagnostopoulos Georgios
Argiriadou Amalia
Argalavini Lina
Adamidis Athanasios
Amanatidis Georgios
Ampatzis Christoforos
Apostolidis Kostas
Arvanitidis Georgios
Anagnostopoulou Polikseni
Akermanidis Lazaros
Vasimposis Georgios
Vrikos Pantelis
Vissari Anastasia
Venetidis Charalampos
Valkoumas Ioannis
Vassiliadis P.
Vagourdis Ilias
Vais Pavlos
Vafopoulos Lazaros
Valtagian Asnif
Varchalamas Theodoros
Vassiliadis Em.
Vassiliadis Ev.
Georgakas Georgios
Gliatis Nikolaos
Grigoriadis E.
Garivaltis N.
Gioulountas M.
Glegou Perla
Grigoriadis Ioannis
Gerakopoulos Georgios
Georgiadis Ch.
Gougoussis M.
Garivaltis N.
Georgopoulos Ch.
Dana M.
Didaskalou Ioannis
Dakoglou Periklis
Dakoglou Florentia
Datsiadou Athina
Datsiadou (child)
Doulgerakis Ch.
Daskoulidis I.
Dousmanaki Fani
Despotopoulou A.
Diamantopoulos Stavros
Demetropoulou Ch.
Efthimiadis Ch.
Evangelidis Ev.
Evangelidis Thomas
Evangelidou A.
Evangelidou K.
Eleftheriadis Georgios
Eleftheriadis D.
Evangelinos A.
Zakopoulos P.
Zanakis S.
Iliadis Ilias
Iliadou Polikseni
Thomadis N.
Theodoridou A.
Theocharidis I.
Iosifidis M.
Iosifidou M.
Ioakimidis A.
Ioannou A.
Itis D.
Karatzi Maria
Kalogiannis Ioannis
Kariotoglou Evangelia
Kouremeli Efrosini
Kouremeli Antigoni
Karatzaferi Eleni
Kestikidis Sokratis
Kekos Pavlos
Kazartakidis Evangelos
Kalogeropoulou Maria
Kalfa Anna
Katsamagou Sofia
Kampas Anastasios
Kotakidis Efstathios
Koskosidou Sotiria
Kiskas Zissis
Kormalis D.
Kalos Christos
Karanikolas K.
Katharios A.
Karapostolis Ch.
Karagavriilidis G.
Klontiropoulou Vassiliki
Kotoulas Michail
Kokinidou P.
Kiriakakis S.
Kiriakaki E.
Keramidas Ilias
Keramida Sofia
Kaplanidis N.
Konstantinidou Sofia
Kourteli A.
Koniaris K.
Korsavas Th.
Kontavas V.
Koukoulidis A.
Kartsounis A.
Konios A.
Koutelis V.
Kalogritsas E.
Kosmopoulos K.
Leonitsa A.
Levenek F.
Ladopoulos P.
Liakopoulos Th.
Lalapanou E.
Lorousso P.
Lorousso A.
Lazaridis P.
Litra M.
Logi F.
Mavrogiannidou E.
Mpalafoutas P.
Mitoulis A.
Mitakidis  A.
Mpostantzoglou E.
Mpaksevanoglou A.
Manoli A.
Maglaros N.
Mpinmpilikos P.
Michailidou E.
Maradiani M.
Mavinitis M.
Menekse I.
Malgarinos P.
Mpampatzanis P.
Mpoutsis Andreas
Miteloudis P.
Mpekiaridis G.
Mpafkopoulos M.
Mavrofridis A.
Mitakos G.
Mitakakis P.
Mpazarmpasis K.
Matzourani M.
Maflizidis P.
Michaletos I.
Nikolaidou P.
Nikolaidou L.
Nikolaidis F.
Ksireas Ilias
Ksenos Manolis
Orfanos P.
Ortetzatos G.
Paisios N.
Papagianopoulos M.
Papachrantos I.
Papaspirou  S.
Papas A.
Paraskevadou K.
Peridou P.
Polikrati S.
Polivos M.
Petala L.
Petala A.
Papadimitriou V.
Pitas N.
Pantelidis P.
Pantelidis D.
Papadopoulos M.
Papapavlou E.
Papatheodorou K.
Papadas K.
Papadimitriou D.
Papathanasiou I.
Papadatou M.
Papadopoulos K.
Piachas N.
Papadopoulou R.
Paneris I.
Papadopoulos M.
Petropoulos P.
Papadopoulos P.
Roumpinis V.
Roussopoulos Ch.
Routsakos D.
Razis G.
Roussis I.
Ragoussi V.
Rougliotis G.
Stroumpos S.
Svarnas D.
Sofranidis Ch.
Sakelari P.
Sari M.
Savas A.
Sgouros K.
Stamos G.
Stilianou E.
Seferiadou M.
Seferiadou K.
Siropoulou L.
Sdralias Ch.
Stilianesis P.
Samzonidis A.
Seve I.
Stoforidou A.
Skourdas N.
Savopoulos A.
Sakelariou M.
Sakelariou A.
Stamatiou S.
Svarnias V.
Seferiadou D.
Stamatelos Antonios
Seferiadou K.
Tais N.
Tselepodis D.
Trelekidis D.
Trelekidis I.
Tegas K.
Tsekelidis I.
Tsirliganis N.
Tsamparli F.
Trifonopoulos D.
Tsolakidou S.
Taouksis N.
Taouksi K.
Topalidis A.
Tossidis I.
Tossidou G.
Tzitzikas A.
Timpanidis N.
Tsounis N.
Tsapanis S.
Tagaroulias J.
Fotiou Chrysa
Fotiou Stavros
Foltopoulos Ch.
Chamdi Z.
Charoussis V.
Chartoukian V.
Charalampidou R.
Chanthimos Ch.
Chartoularis S.
Chartoulari E.
Chatzopoulou E.
Chatzivasiliou K.
Christoforidis P.
Charitou O.
Chiotaki K.
Psaltakis A.
Psaltaki Ch.

Displaced Passengers

Adamidis K.
Alvertos K.
Apergis G.
Votsas A.
Giouvanakis A.
Gerogiannis I.
Gondos I.
Deligiannidis K.
Zagourtzis N.
Isopoulos A.
Kalifatidis I.
Kontastathis S.
Kakavas I.
Likartzis S.
Mpatzakis N.
Matsavidou E.
Magazis A.
Notoglou E.
Ntoukas V.
Ountas D.
Pasvantidis N.
Paraskevopoulos P.
Roumeliotis Ch.
Stavridis V.
Stefanidis N.
Stoidis Ch.
Tsaousidis G.
Tarpoglou K.
Taksintaris S.
Tsiknias A.
Togas A.
Tsardakis G.
Tzompatzikonstantis K.
Chrisocheris A.

Total of Individual Passengers: 286

Military Passengers

Aksonidis K.
Anastasakis E.
Apostolidis V.
Anastasopoulos V.
Aleksandridis S.
Antiochos D.
Apostolou E.
Avgoustis D.
Aleksakis M.
Aggelopoulos D.
Antoniadis G.
Anagnostopoulos G.
Aleksiadis A.
Antonopoulos I.
Aleksandrou A.
Andreadis E.
Avramidis I.
Ventoumis Ch.
Vasilopoulos Ch.
Vamvouris G.
Vitelas I.
Voudousis Th.
Gikas D.
Genisaridis I.
Georgileas K.
Galorchopoulos D.
Gourgouris M.
Gianakos K.
Dimarakis I.
Dikeos N.
Dogranis I.
Drivas Th.
Dimopoulos I.
Detsikas A.
Deligeorgidis N.
Elman Hassan Oglou
Erouklidis A.
Efstathios E.
Zafirakis A.
Zimnaris A.
Zampelis S.
Theocharis N.
Theodorou V.
Kioussis A.
Kourksopoulos S.
Kiriakopoulos N.
Krasanakis N.
Kontogianis D.
Koumenteas E.
Karastogianidis A.
Kalidis N.
Kontos F.
Karvounis G.
Kanelidis E.
Kaldimis D.
Kiroglou G.
Kotis E.
Kiriazopoulos Ch.
Koronis N.
Kamilakis G.
Klironomos I.
Kotakos I.
Katsounakis Th.
Kokoris I.
Kourounkidis I.
Krontiris A.
Kormas P.
Kiriakopoulos G.
Koutlis G.
Kostoglou Ch.
Ladas N.
Lolos Ch.
Lampropoulos E.
Liosis P.
Liskos A.
Lekas S.
Lampropoulos A.
Lichopsichakis N.
Louskos Ch.
Lourakis T.
Mpeis N.
Mplamas N.
Mpavas M.
Mousoulis P.
Makris G.
Mitropoulos G.
Manos E.
Moustaferis A.
Makridis G.
Mpoutafis K.
Matheopoulos O.
Mpoziotis I.
Mitsotis M.
Michalakeas D.
Mergias K.
Melekos M.
Mpischiniotis G.
Mpafkas Ch.
Mpakopoulos N.
Mankos A.
Makris N.
Nikolaou G.
Matsamakis K.
Ntiskos E.
Nalatzis I.
Nikolaidis S.
Oikonomou Th.
Oussantzopoulos G.
Panagopoulos Th.
Patounas V.
Pissios V.
Pavlidis K.
Papadopoulos E.
Papanastasiou D.
Pechlivanidis I.
Pelopatsis G.
Paradissis E.
Pachakis D.
Pervoliotis G.
Papas I.
Pitsakis G.
Papagianoglou E.
Papazoglou M.
Papanastasiou D.
Pidakis G.
Raniotis N.
Rigopoulos R.
Rolas I.
Rokakis G.
Sergianis V.
Savidis P.
Samaras P.
Stamou G.
Saris V.
Stomis A.
Stamos A.
Sili Hassan
Spireas Christos
Sidiropoulos N.
Sikaras A.
Salmas K.
Souris P.
Stefanou K.
Sarantinos N.
Spirakos K.
Sachimoglou I.
Sotiropoulos A.
Sakelaridis I.
Trilivas S.
Tassoulis K.
Tsamakakis A.
Tsakalos P.
Tetoros E.
Tzaros I.
Tsilikas A.
Tzivanopoulos Ch.
Tsampalis I.
Tzakis N.
Tsekos Ch.
Tsagris N.
Tsakalos I.
Tei- Ernest
Taskounilis A.
Tzimos M.
Tsapos G.
Taksopoulos I.
Fakidis A.
Fragoulis K.
Filipakopoulos L.
Fanis Ch.
Christopoulos A.
Chatzianastasiadis Th.
Chatziprodromou Th.
Christodoulakis G.
Christodoulakis I.
Christopoulos V.
Chrisochoidis G.
Chachoulos N.
Christoudis I.
Charitos G.

Men of guard, Passengers

Voudouris S.
Voutsineas G.
Velias G.
Gateas P.
Zafirakis V.
Kolaros A.
Kouroukafas I.
Kouris D.
Kritikakis G.
Karagianis D.
Kalivas N.
Kostakos I.
Keramidas G.
Ktistis D.
Lazaridis I.
Lagaditis Th.
Louvros N.
Mpaksevanis A.
Maltezakis E.
Mparmparousis K.
Mpekiaris I.
Mpetis Ch.
Margaritakis N.
Nasopoulos P.
Ksepapadakos K.
Papanastasiou K.
Panagiotopoulos G.
Politakis I.
Rizas A.
Siledos G.
Soulis P.
Spiropoulos A.
Sklavenitis A.
Simonis E.
Tsamis Th.
Triantafilou V.
Tampakis D.
Tsouleas E.
Tegos A.
Foutsis D.
Chachalis D.
Chrisikopoulos G.
Charitos G.
Tsanakos I.            Stowaway
Triantafilou St.            Stowaway

Members of Hellenic Navy and Passengers

Andrikopoulos K.
Gianopoulos A.
Danis D.
Kempatzoglou Th.
Kouvourtsakis G.
Leontopoulos Th.
Mavroudis D.
Moschos Th.
Stilianos T.
Faltaich G.
Chrisanthis A.

Stowaway of Hellenic Navy and Hellenic Coast Guard

Voulgaridis E.
Vissios G.
Kantadis G.
Pikios D.
Tripitiris  D.
Filis D.

Total amount of military people and passengers: 224
General total amount of passengers and crew: 616

Source: Christos Ntounis, Wrecks at Greek Seas 1900-1950, Volume A.