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Hero image for Destination Disaster: The Sinking of the Mikhail Lermontov

Destination Disaster: The Sinking of the Mikhail Lermontov

Television (Full Length) – 2000

peter grattan
21 Feb 2017 - 07.52am
PUTIN PREPARES DOSSIER ON TRUMP: My story may sound far-fetched, but this latest news is similar to what a very young Vlad P did exactly 40 years ago this month, to me!! February 1977: I was a young producer at TVNZ, took 3 months leave to perform with my trio on the cruise ship Shota Rustaveli from NZ to UK and return. We played the next year on Mikhail Lermontov too, 2 month cruise to USA and back. Later it sank off NZ's coast, pilot error, and Putin came NZ for the hearings. Before he became Yeltsin's protege.

But in '77, Vlad was obviously, but not to us, a KGB operative masquerading as a ship's officer. They went in pairs, came to visit us in our cabins. We were treated as passengers, I knew the English cruise line owner, Les Goss, who chartered the boats out of Odessa. But I digress. Vlad and his talkative but listening mate wanted to talk to us, get a feel for life in NZ, they needed to know how Westerners thought. Vlad knew little English, or pretended not to. Met him a couple of times, seemed shy, said little, didn't drink, it was between NZ and Uruguay, 19 day journey, then he disappeared, they used to slip their new operatives into other countries and bring others onboard, he'd probably got off in Montevideo. The other, taller guy's English was better, VP was very young. Steely, cold eyes. Focussed. Same with 18 year old Russell Crowe whom I put on TV in 1982 ... but THAT is a different story. I still have my scrap books! :-)
Ian Williams
Ian Williams
12 Mar 2015 - 09.19am
I love the side profile shot in the 9th clip of what can only be Vlad "The Impaler" Putin (his wrestling name...lol...for the WTF Wrestling Show), or his body double, long lost twin brother, or doppelganger, either way, this is a clanger, and adds credence to the consideration that he was here to handle Soviet "Super Spy" and leading contender to head the UN, our Helen of Troy!
Jean Thorpe
Jean Thorpe
8 Jun 2014 - 04.45pm
My husband and I were on the top deck with three others when the ship struck the rock-it was raining and all passengers were inside at the time.
He was asked by an official if he would return to NZ for the enquiry -but, of course in the obvious cover-up- it did not happen. I still retain newspaper coverage with my records. Yes, Putin -a member of the KGB then-is shown, in NZ at that time.
Vikki
Vikki
5 Mar 2013 - 05.07pm
My husband Anthony and I took the Lermontov from the UK when we moved to the US. It was one of the most unforgettable adventures of my life. I still have the passenger programs they brought to us every morning and a couple things I bought in the gift shop. I remember we celebrated our wedding anniversary on our voyage. The crew baked us a special cake and serenaded us at our table. I even played my guitar in the passenger talent show ;o)
Vicki Smith
Vicki Smith
24 Nov 2012 - 11.49pm
My parents were on the ship, I had, of course, heard their account of the sinking, but this documentary really bought home to me what they had endured.
It was a great documentary
Paul Ward
Paul Ward (NZ On Screen team)
20 Nov 2012 - 02.36pm
Hi Miles - have a look around 1.00min into clip 9 (final clip). The fellow on the right looks a lot like the Russian President ...
Miles
Miles
19 Nov 2012 - 08.28pm
I have been told that there is a photo taken in NZ at the time of Russian officials who came to NZ as part of the investigations and inquiry. In this photo in the back is a young Vladamir Putin. Is that correct and where could it be viewed?
Kevin Dekker
Kevin Dekker
21 Oct 2012 - 12.46pm
This documentary has an unbalanced emphasis on the Russian story, and on omitting anything embarrassing to them, like the state of the life-saving equipment, or the fact the ship was beached in Port Gore but wasn't anchored on the beach, or the fact that a relatively lightly damaged ship was allowed to sink so easily due to failure of WT doors. The shocking nature of the accident is exceeded only by the appallingly bad media coverage, of which this documentary, and Tom O'Connor's book "Death of a Cruise Ship" are prime examples. Best Director award should have gone to the propaganda office of the Soviet embassy in Wellington.
Tony Harvey
Tony Harvey
13 Oct 2012 - 11.58am
Kevin Dekker,

It appears you know more than I do about all this. I haven't had time nor am I willing to commit it now to research it for myself beyond the documentary/accident report, so I don't argue with your your assertions sir.

Tony Harvey
Kevin Dekker
Kevin Dekker
11 Oct 2012 - 01.20pm
This documentary omits mountains of relevant evidence that indicates a cover-up of the facts by both governments involved. If all the available evidence is gathered and considered, you'd have to say that the NZ accident report was an "orchestrated litany of lies". Why do you think Steve Ponsford looks so shifty when questioned? No wonder they didn't want an independent judicial formal inquiry headed by a judge, a la mount erebus. The Lange govt learnt one lesson from erebus, if you're going to have a cover-up, don't allow a judicial inquiry to follow. And they were right. They got away with it!

By the way Tony Harvey, Jamison did say sorry, its in his written statement to the NZ inquiry. It was the Soviet Embassy in Wellington who didn't want him to say anything more, something they publicly stated in the media. They also publicly directed the NZ govt on how the inquiry conclusions should read, and got their wish. Pity the producers of this documentary didn't do more research, in this case the truth would not have got in the way of a good story, it would have made it all the more interesting!!
Nicole Ristev
Nicole Ristev
5 Mar 2011 - 12.20am
I was a ten year old child when i went on the final cruise of the Mikhaill lermontov and i just watched the destination disaster documentary for the first time, even though it was produced in 2000. Thank you for making the documentary and for providing details of this event in a honest, non biased fashion. I have often thought about making my own documentary or writing my own book about the sinking from my own first hand perspective, after all Feb 16th this year marked twenty five years since the sinking
Brian Kirkwood
Brian Kirkwood
3 Oct 2009 - 11.07pm
Awesome video.
It has to be one of the biggest stuff ups in NZ maritime history. As it was said on here if he pulled it off he would have been "The Man who"... but with hind sight ...
I can only thank him in another way as i have had the chance do more than 30 dives on her and each one i have managed to see something new each time. I had done a dozen dives on her bow before the dive i first noticedd her name letters. The size of this wreck has to be seen to be comprehended, such as my height being over 6 foot and being able to stand in the entrance to the bow thrusters. Thanks for that Don, but come on everyone knows you made a huge f**k *p here just come forward and say so.
Sure I'm just another person who works on boats but when I'm as tired as he portrayed himself to be there's no bloody way I'd take anything under my control anywhere near something like that. The distances travelled between the time of the first turn towards cape jackson and the final through the channel this was more than a spur of the moment decision. Come on we aren't talking about a 30 knot fast fizz that would eat up the distance in no time at all.
But thats just my views on it! But like I said , thanks for the awesome dive site!
Tony Harvey
Tony Harvey
30 Sep 2009 - 08.32am
Wonderful comprehensive and moving documentary... Well done.
I cruised on this ship (age 16) with my Father in Summer 1982 out & back to Tilbury (UK) via 7 Spanish, Potugese & African ports, and loved the ship & the hospitality of the Russian crew. So the whole story is fascinating and very moving to me.
If Captain Jamieson could find it in his heart to say sorry, even if just in a written statement that would be wonderful for all who were concerned. But perhaps he feels it but fears legal consequences of making it known?
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