SS SeaBreeze

SS SeaBreeze was a cruise ship that made headlines when its passengers were unloaded mid-way through their cruise and the vessel was put under arrest in Halifax Harbour.[1] The ship then sank in international waters three months later. It was owned by International Shipping Partners[2] and insured for $20M when its value was estimated at $5–6M.[3][4]

SeaBreeze leaving Miami, Florida in 1990.
  • 1958–1983: Federico C.
  • 1983: Royale
  • 1983–1988: StarShip Royale
  • 1988–2000: SeaBreeze
Port of registry: Panama
Builder: Gio. Ansaldo & C., Sestri Ponente, Italy
Launched: 31 March 1957
Completed: 1958
In service: March 1958
Out of service: September 2000
Refit: 1989
Identification: IMO number: 5113230
Fate: Sunk
General characteristics
Tonnage: 21,000
Length: 605 ft (184.4 m)
Beam: 79 ft (24.1 m)
Depth: 8.6 m (28.2 ft)
Decks: 9
Speed: 21 knots (39 km/h; 24 mph)
Capacity: 840 passengers
Crew: 400


The ship was launched on 31 March 1957 and completed in March 1958 by the Ansaldo Sestri Ponente shipyard in Italy as Federico C,[5] the first new ship built for the Costa Line.[6] The ship initially provided a liner service between Genoa, Italy and Buenos Aires, Argentina via Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. In 1966 Federico C was transferred to a service between Genoa and Florida, the Caribbean and Venezuela. The ship had a major refit in 1968, then added Caribbean cruises between trans-Atlantic trips. Federico C operated cruises exclusively from 1972 to 1983, when the ship was sold.[7]

In 1983, Premier Cruises obtained the ship and named it Royale; it became StarShip Royale in the same year. In 1988, the ship was renamed SeaBreeze when it was placed in service for Dolphin Cruise Lines. One year later, the ship was refurbished. Premier took possession of the ship when it acquired Dolphin in 1997. When Premier went out of business in September 2000, the ship was ordered to immediately cease operations.

At the time, it was docked at a Canadian port, and sailed some days later to be laid up in Freeport, Bahamas.


On December 17, 2000, the ship sank off the coast of North Carolina/Virginia. The boiler allegedly broke off and damaged the ship.[8]

The investigation into the sinking of Seabreeze I caused international concern, based upon numerous suspicious incidents, including the fact that the ship was likely to fetch only between $5 and $6 million for scrap, but had a $20 million insurance policy on it. The cruise ship sank in international waters flying the Panamanian flag, making Panama responsible for the investigation of the sinking.

The ship's captain told the United States Coast Guard rescuers that his boat was in imminent danger of sinking as a result of its engine room being flooded in high winds and 25-foot (7.6 m) seas.[9] At the time, the Coast Guard rescuers believed that it was highly unlikely for a ship that large to sink that quickly, and were astonished when the Greek captain demanded that all hands be extracted from the ship, instead of requesting salvage tugs and trying to tow it to shore for recovery. Subsequently, all 34 crewmembers were rescued; there were no passengers on board.[3][4]

At the time of the sinking, Steven Cotton of the International Transport Workers' Federation in London stated that he wished that the ship, which went down 225 nautical miles (417 km) off the Virginia coast, had gone down 25 nautical miles (46 km) closer to the coast because that would have put the case in the hands of American investigators. According to Cotton, "Panama's track record of carrying out comprehensive investigations into vessel sinkings is not very good."[10]

The vessel had just been purchased by Cruise Ventures III, a subsidiary of New York-based DLJ Capital Funding and was traveling from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Charleston, South Carolina.[9]


  1. "For sale: one cruise ship". CBC News. 2000-10-24. Archived from the original on 2012-04-26. Retrieved 2008-05-09.
  2. "Crew rescued from sinking ship". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Dec 18, 2000. Retrieved 26 April 2012.
  3. "Passenger Ship Disasters – Part 5". Ships Nostalgia. Retrieved 26 April 2012.
  4. Pablobini. "SS Sea Breeze I (+2000) History". August 12, 2010. Wreck Site. Retrieved 26 April 2012.
  5. "Federico C (5113230)". Miramar Ship Index. Retrieved 19 February 2019.
  6. Bonsor, N R P (1983). South Atlantic Seaway. St Brelade, Jersey: Brookside Publications. pp. 477–480. ISBN 0-905824-06-7.
  7. "Federico C". Retrieved 5 January 2019.
  8. "SeaBreeze Sinks – cruise ship sinks off Virginia coast". Cruise Travel. Archived from the original on September 24, 2015. Retrieved March 1, 2001.
  9. Cruise ship sinks day after crew rescued
  10. "Cruise ship sinking may never be fully investigated". CBC News. 2000-12-21. Retrieved 2008-05-09.

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