The 26,904gt/2009 built Norman Atlantic was en-route from Patras, Greece, to Ancona in Italy, a service that she had only been chartered for from 19th December-5th January in place of the Hellenic Spirit when, at around 0400 on 28th December after an interim call at Igoumenitsa, a fire broke out on the main vehicle deck and quickly took hold.
Propulsion and steering was lost in rough seas and a Mayday call was issued. Italian and Greek helicopter crews worked through the day and into the night to airlift passengers off the burning ferry whilst adrift in the Adriatic Sea, battling bad weather that hampered rescue efforts by other ships. Passengers were transferred to a nearby container vessel Spirit of Piraeus and the ferry Cruise Europa took some evacuees plus some had evacuated via an MES shute into a ship’s lifeboat.
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