When the Bahamian Aframax tanker Mitera Marigo steams across the bay on Friday morning she will be following in the wake of a previous ship of the same family name that, in 1959, became Falmouth’s biggest shipwreck.
The present Mitera Marigo (Mother Marigo) is named after the ship’s godmother Mrs Marigo Lemos-Patitas. Renaming family members is a strong tradition in Greece, and is not unusual for ships.
In 1957 her owner, Captain Leon C Lemos, named the bulk carrier Mitera Marigo after his mother. Two years later a drama unfolded off Ushant, off France, that sealed the fate of the ship.
Just after 0200 hours on May 29, 1959 in dense fog 15 miles north of Ushant. the Mitera Marigo, fully laden with 12,100 tons of iron ore, proceeding from Mormugao, India, to Rotterdam, in the Netherlands, was in collision with the German freighter Fritz Thyssen that was en-route from Amsterdam to Liberia.
Both ships were badly damaged in the collision, although no casualties were reported.
Mitera Marigo’s Greek master, Captain George Lemos initially decided to steam at full speed towards Rotterdam but altered course for Falmouth instead. Later that day, pilot Captain William Perrett guided the badly damaged ship to the Cross Roads mooring buoy.
Falmouth’s harbour master, Captain Frank Edwards, went afloat to assess the situation first hand. He advised Captain Lemos that his ship was sinking and she should be beached near to the Northbank buoy.
Lemos gave the order to abandon ship at 2345 hours when the ship started to sink by the bows. She finally sank at 0115 hours the following morning with just her masts showing above the water.
Falmouth Harbour Commissioners awarded Risdon Beazley, of Southampton, the £320,000 contract to remove the wreck which was completed in October 1962.
Today, Leon S. Patitsas, grandson of Captain Leon Lemos, follows in his grandfather’s footsteps running Atlas Maritime Ltd, the company he founded in 2003 with two Panamax bulkers.
The Lemos family originates from the tiny island of Oinousses, close to Chios.
Leon Lemos went on to develop Efploia Shipping making it one of the major Greek ship-owning businesses of his time.