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The Fateful Trip Of The 'Vasilios N'

The Georgian-flagged "Vasilios N" set sail for the Libyan port of Misurata in April 2010. Upon arrival, it was detained by port authorities after a Libyan client complained the ship's cargo of cement powder had been damaged in a storm. The ship and its Georgian, Ukrainian, and Azerbaijani crew were held in Misurata for the next 11 months.

The "Vasilios N" cargo ship - The Georgian-flagged vessel set sail for the Libyan port of Misurata in April 2010. Upon arrival, it was detained by port authorities after a Libyan client complained the ship's cargo of cement powder had been damaged in a storm. The ship and its Georgian, Ukrainian, and Azerbaijani crew were held in Misurata for the next 11 months.
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The "Vasilios N" cargo ship - The Georgian-flagged vessel set sail for the Libyan port of Misurata in April 2010. Upon arrival, it was detained by port authorities after a Libyan client complained the ship's cargo of cement powder had been damaged in a storm. The ship and its Georgian, Ukrainian, and Azerbaijani crew were held in Misurata for the next 11 months.

The "Vasilios N" cargo ship - The 33-year-old vessel had already completed ports of call in Turkey, France, Italy, and the Libyan city of Benghazi before departing from Antalya for Misurata, where a construction boom was feeding a demand for materials like cement. The crew expected to be in Misurata no more than five days. But after the ship's Greek and Italian owners failed to resolve the dispute, the "Vasilios N" was detained indefinitely.
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The "Vasilios N" cargo ship - The 33-year-old vessel had already completed ports of call in Turkey, France, Italy, and the Libyan city of Benghazi before departing from Antalya for Misurata, where a construction boom was feeding a demand for materials like cement. The crew expected to be in Misurata no more than five days. But after the ship's Greek and Italian owners failed to resolve the dispute, the "Vasilios N" was detained indefinitely.

Giorgi Kurashvili on board the "Vasilios N" - Kurashvili is one of five Georgians on board the vessel, as well as the son of the captain, Iveri. He studied to be a diplomat, but then chose instead to follow his father's career path. The shipping tour that ended with the vessel being held in Libya was the first voyage together for father and son.
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Giorgi Kurashvili on board the "Vasilios N" - Kurashvili is one of five Georgians on board the vessel, as well as the son of the captain, Iveri. He studied to be a diplomat, but then chose instead to follow his father's career path. The shipping tour that ended with the vessel being held in Libya was the first voyage together for father and son.

Iveri Kurashvili, his wife Manana Ambalia, and their eldest son Giorgi as a baby. - The captain of the "Vasilios N," Iveri Kurashvili, grew up in the Georgian port city of Poti, where "nearly everyone is a sailor." From the time he was in kindergarten, he says he knew he would be one as well. But when Giorgi decided to follow suit, his mother, Manana, objected at first. "Iveri was at sea while my children were growing up," she says. "He missed out on so many things."
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Iveri Kurashvili, his wife Manana Ambalia, and their eldest son Giorgi as a baby. - The captain of the "Vasilios N," Iveri Kurashvili, grew up in the Georgian port city of Poti, where "nearly everyone is a sailor." From the time he was in kindergarten, he says he knew he would be one as well. But when Giorgi decided to follow suit, his mother, Manana, objected at first. "Iveri was at sea while my children were growing up," she says. "He missed out on so many things."

Zurab Guralia, left, and Giorgi Kurashvili on board the "Vasilios N." - The ship originally set out with a 10-person crew -- six Georgians, three Ukrainians, and one Azerbaijani -- although one Georgian crew member was shipped home after falling ill from hepatitis. The common language on board was Russian. "We're one crew, one family," one of the sailors said.
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Zurab Guralia, left, and Giorgi Kurashvili on board the "Vasilios N." - The ship originally set out with a 10-person crew -- six Georgians, three Ukrainians, and one Azerbaijani -- although one Georgian crew member was shipped home after falling ill from hepatitis. The common language on board was Russian. "We're one crew, one family," one of the sailors said.

The deck of the "Vasilios N" during a Mediterranean storm in April 2010 - Just a day after setting out from Antalya, the "Vasilios N" encountered a severe storm near the Greek island of Karpathos, with strong winds and high swells that washed over the deck. The crew was forced to drop anchor and wait out the storm for three days. When the weather cleared, the crew realized some of the cargo had sustained water damage.
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The deck of the "Vasilios N" during a Mediterranean storm in April 2010 - Just a day after setting out from Antalya, the "Vasilios N" encountered a severe storm near the Greek island of Karpathos, with strong winds and high swells that washed over the deck. The crew was forced to drop anchor and wait out the storm for three days. When the weather cleared, the crew realized some of the cargo had sustained water damage.

Damaged navigational equipment on the "Vasilios N" - In January, with the "Vasilios N" already entering its ninth month of port arrest, a distraught crew member set fire to the captain's bridge. The fire was put out before causing any extensive damage to the vessel or putting the crew at risk. But the ship's navigational equipment was destroyed.
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Damaged navigational equipment on the "Vasilios N" - In January, with the "Vasilios N" already entering its ninth month of port arrest, a distraught crew member set fire to the captain's bridge. The fire was put out before causing any extensive damage to the vessel or putting the crew at risk. But the ship's navigational equipment was destroyed.

Fire damage in the operating bridge of the "Vasilios N" - The crew had asked repeatedly for their colleague to be evacuated, citing his mounting distress. But after months of neglect, the crew member set the navigational panels on fire before quickly repenting and alerting the rest of the crew to the fire. "After he did it, he came to his senses. He realized what he had done," Iveri Kurashvili said.
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Fire damage in the operating bridge of the "Vasilios N" - The crew had asked repeatedly for their colleague to be evacuated, citing his mounting distress. But after months of neglect, the crew member set the navigational panels on fire before quickly repenting and alerting the rest of the crew to the fire. "After he did it, he came to his senses. He realized what he had done," Iveri Kurashvili said.

Iveri Kurashvili, the captain of the "Vasilios N" - After the damage to the ship's navigational equipment, Kurashvili was forced to use traditional celestial navigation to guide the ship from Misurata to the Maltese port of Valetta. "I know my job and I know what has to be done," he said afterward. "All you need is a magnetic compass, a sextant, and calculations. And a little bit of luck."
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Iveri Kurashvili, the captain of the "Vasilios N" - After the damage to the ship's navigational equipment, Kurashvili was forced to use traditional celestial navigation to guide the ship from Misurata to the Maltese port of Valetta. "I know my job and I know what has to be done," he said afterward. "All you need is a magnetic compass, a sextant, and calculations. And a little bit of luck."

The "Vasilios N," anchored in Valetta - Port authorities in Malta were originally wary of the "Vasilios N," worried that it might be carrying dozens of Libyan refugees. After an inspection, the ship was allowed to drop anchor, and will likely remain in the port until it is purchased by a new owner. The crew is hoping the cost of the sale will cover their unpaid wages, which total at least a quarter of a million dollars.
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The "Vasilios N," anchored in Valetta - Port authorities in Malta were originally wary of the "Vasilios N," worried that it might be carrying dozens of Libyan refugees. After an inspection, the ship was allowed to drop anchor, and will likely remain in the port until it is purchased by a new owner. The crew is hoping the cost of the sale will cover their unpaid wages, which total at least a quarter of a million dollars.

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