sexta-feira, 12 de julho de 2013

Lost at sea off Lisbon coast

Navio Bolama

On the 4th of December 1991, the fishing trawler “Bolama”, which had recently been sold to new owners, headed out from the port of Lisbon to conduct an on-board business lunch and in order to test the trawlers fishing gear.  The faith of the vessel and the 30 crew onboard, however, was to be very much different, as the vessel disappeared and the crew has never been heard from again.

The mysterious disappearance triggered the biggest search and rescue operation ever to be conducted by the Portuguese Government. The search and rescue team consisted of several airplanes from the Portuguese Air force and 7 Naval Ships including the Frigate “Roberto Ivens”, which also carried onboard the Special Forces DAE (Destacamento de Acções Especiais), which specializes in anti-terrorism and hostage operations at sea.

On the 20th of December 1991, "The Journal" printed an article suggesting the vessel had been carrying a nuclear device sold by former soviet republics to presumably Libya. The device should be transferred to another vessel off the coast of Lisbon, but according to "The Jounal", MOSSAD prevented the receiving ship to arrive at the destination. To this date, there is still no evidence of this story.

On 5th of February 1992, the vessel was located by sonar on the bottom of the sea off the coast of Lisbon in a very trafficated area. The portuguese Navy immediately arranged a diving inspection of the vessel and denied others, namely a private person from Denmark who lost his son on the ship, to do the same. Even after an official request by the danish government in 1994, the portuguese government refused to give an authority for a diving inspection and did not give any explanation either. Till this date, only video images made by the portuguese government is available.

Onboard the vessel and particulary on the bridge was a great number of emergency devices to call for help. None of the these were ever used. Further, on the deck was placed two self-inflating life rafts, buoys and life jackets that have never been found either.

The Criminal Court of Lisbon concluded in 1996 that the vessel was lost due to natural causes. The appeal filed by the prosecutors was denied. The insurance company did not pay out any compensation to the onwers and the Lisbon Maritime Court absolved the insurance company, as the actual course of the simking could not be determined. In 1997, 23 relatives filed charges against the owners, classification company, the insurance company and finnaly the portuguese state. Nine years later in 2006, the Lisbon Civil Court declared itself incompetent to hear the case. No cases related to this matter has ever since been tried in court.

There are lots of questions and we have tried to give our objective view on as many as them on this blog. However, with the information presently in hand, we are still not able to determine what happen on that day back in 1991. So if you have any information, clues or pictures or if you think we missing something crucial, please let us know on following email:

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