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Mikhail Lermontov

Television (Full Length) – 1986

On 16 February 1986 a Russian cruise liner, the Mikhail Lermontov, struck rocks off Cape Jackson in the Marlborough Sounds. The ship carried 408 mostly elderly Australian passengers, and a crew of 330. The ship drifted and eventually sank in Port Gore; one Russian sailor died. This Lynton Diggle-directed documentary was shot in the months that followed, as the camera followed dive teams into the black depths of the vessel. Their task in hazardous conditions was to salvage oil from the wreck, and preserve Marlborough's coastline.

We felt this enormous bang and the ship really shuddered and you could feel it scraping along something. And we all looked at each other and went ‘Oh my God,’ you know, what’s happened?
– Passenger

Produced by

Film New Zealand


Made in association with Television New Zealand