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MS Prinsendam (1973): Wikis


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Name: MS Prinsendam
Operator: Holland America Line
Builder: De Merwede in Hardinxveld-Giessendam, Netherlands
Cost: $US27 million
In service: 1973
Out of service: October 4, 1980
Fate: Sank on October 11, 1980 in the Gulf of Alaska
Status: Sunk
General characteristics
Length: 427 ft (130 m)
Capacity: 350 passengers
Crew: 200 crew

MS Prinsendam which was built at Shipyard de Merwede in the Netherlands in 1973. That ship was 427 feet long and typically carried about 350 passengers and 200 crew members. The liner was sailing through the Gulf of Alaska, approximately 120 miles south of Yakutat, Alaska, at midnight on October 4, 1980, when a fire broke out in the engine room. The vessel’s master declared the fire out of control one hour later and the Prinsendam sent a radio call requesting immediate assistance. The United States Coast Guard at Communications Station Kodiak, Alaska requested that the MS Prinsendam send out an SOS, but the captain declined. Chief Radio Officer Jack van der Zee sent one out anyways about a half hour later, which alerted nearby vessels.[1]

As the ship's location was out of range of USCG Helicopters, USAF Air Rescue Service helicopters (which have a longer range and can be aerially refueled) airlifted medical officers and pararescue men to the ship and evacuated the injured from the fire prior to other ships reaching the scene to evacuate the passengers and crew.

United States Coast Guard and Canadian Coast Guard helicopters and the cutters Boutwell, Mellon, and Woodrush responded in concert with other vessels in the area. The passenger vessel later capsized and sank. The rescue is particularly important because of the distance traveled by the rescuers, the coordination of independent organizations, and the fact that all 520 passengers and crew were rescued without loss of life or serious injury.[2]


  1. ^ Manuscript log of supertanker Williamsburgh. 4 October 1980, retrieved May 31, 2008,
  2. ^ Office of Public Affairs, U.S. Coast Guard. “Top Ten Coast Guard Rescues.” July 31, 2007,

External links

Coordinates: 55°52′59″N 136°27′00″W / 55.883°N 136.450°W / 55.883; -136.450



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