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2 of 36 Crewmen Rescued in Abandoned Sinking Israeli Ship 95 Miles East of Bermuda

March 9, 1981
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The U. S. Coast Guard said this afternoon that two men have been rescued from the 19,000-ton Israeli bulk carrier Masada which sank in heavy seas this morning about 95 miles east of Bermuda but the remaining 34 crewmen were apparently still in lifeboats or in the water as of 3 p.m. local time.

Petty Officer Greg Creedon, of the Coast Guard Eastern Sea Frontier in New York, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency earlier that a U. S. Navy helicopter from Bermuda had rescued one man who, according to unconfirmed reports, had a broken leg. It was then forced to return to base because it was low on fuel. Petty Officer Johnny Ludlow told the JTA later that a second man had been rescued by a freighter but could give no details or identify the ship.

The Masada, owned by the Zim Israel Navigation Co. of Haifa, sank some time before noon today. Telephone calls by the JTA to the Zim Lines office in New York were unanswered. The ship was reportedly carrying a cargo of potash. The Coast Guard could not immediately say which port she had sailed from or where she was bound.


Creedon told the JTA that a C-130 aircraft dispatched by the Coast Guard from Elizabeth City, N. C. this morning and an Orion P-3 reconnaissance plane spotted two lifeboats and a life raft near the scene of the sinking and “eight-to-ten people in the water” clinging to debris. Life rafts were dropped for them. He said two merchant ships were standing by at the scene, apparently in response to a ship-in-distress call by the Coast Guard. He could not identify the ships by name or nationality.

According to Creedon, the Coast Guard was contacted by the Masada’s Master late yesterday and informed that the ship was laboring in heavy seas and taking water in one of her holds through a breached hatchcover. He said that at 6:39 a.m. local time today a further message was received saying the vessel was sinking and the crew was abandoning ship.

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