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Capsized Ferry Pulled Out of Haifa Bay

December 26, 1990

HAIFA, Israel (AP) _ A floating crane on Wednesday pulled from Haifa Bay the chartered ferry that capsized last weekend, drowning 21 sailors from the USS Saratoga aircraft carrier.

As the red and white ferry was pulled ashore, sailors watched from the Saratoga’s deck with binoculars and cameras.

Water poured from the broken ferry windows and orange life jackets tumbled into choppy waves. A U.S. helicopter hovered overhead.

Israeli and American authorities are investigating the sinking.

On initial inspection Wednesday, the ship seemed to be in good condition with no obvious problems, Israel army radio said.

Israel television said investigation teams would inspect the ferry’s hull Thursday for any defect that could have led to the disaster.

The 57-foot Israeli ferry, hired to transport the U.S. sailors, was about 200 yards from the Saratoga early Saturday when it was swamped by two swells, survivors said. Israeli officials believe the ship may have been destabilized when too many men gathered in its aft.

The Saratoga and its escort ships had come from the Red Sea, where they were participating in the anti-Iraqi force. The servicemen were on shore leave in Haifa, about 75 miles northwest of Jerusalem.

The accident was the deadliest involving U.S. servicemen during the Persian Gulf buildup.

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