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1983 Aleksandr Suvorov Strikes Railway Bridge - 177 Dead #maritimehistory

On 5 June 1983 Aleksandr Suvorov sailed from Rostov to Moscow. There were 330 passengers, 30 crew and 35 service personnel aboard. It is believed that some unregistered passengers were also aboard the ship.

At approximately 22:00 an auction was advertised as taking place in the cinema hall on the upper deck. A TV translation was to take place at 22:45, which attracted many passengers to the upper deck. The chief mate Vladimir Mitenkov and helmsman Uvarov operated the ship from the wheelhouse, which was also on the upper deck. Captain Vladimir Kleymenov was resting in his cabin. The ship was sailing at 25 km/h (16 mph; 13 kn), the maximum speed.

The ship reached the sixth span of the bridge (instead of passable second span) which was lower than the main deck. At that moment a freight train went over the bridge. Controllers at the bank had noticed that Aleksandr Suvorov had come to the wrong span. They sent a radio message to the ship, but there was no reply. They then launched a warning flare, but it was too late.

The span cut the deck house and the cinema hall, whilst the lowest deck was undamaged. The impact damaged the bridge, derailed some cars, and some of their contents fell onto the ship.

Aleksandr Suvorov continued for another 300 metres (1000 ft) after the bridge. The rescue boats reached Aleksandr Suvorov 40 minutes later.

The collision caused 177 deaths yet the ship stayed afloat, was restored and is still in use.

Image: Andrey Russkih (


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