On 3 August 1991, the Oceanos set out from East London, South Africa, headed to Durban. It headed into 40-knot winds and 9 m (30 ft) swells.
While off the Wild Coast of the Transkei, a muffled explosion was heard and the Oceanos lost her power following a leak in the engine room's sea chest, a scoop-like device which brings in system cooling water. The ship's engineer reported to Captain Yiannis Avranas that water was entering the hull and flooding the generator room. The generators were shut down because the rising water would have shorted them. The supply of power to auxiliary equipment which ran the engines had been severed, so the ship was left floating adrift.
The water steadily rose, flowing through the 10 cm (3.9 in) hole in the bulkhead and into the waste disposal tank. Without valves to close on the holding tank, the water coursed through the main drainage pipes and rose like a tide within the ship, spilling out of every shower, toilet, and waste disposal unit connected to the system.
Realizing the fate of the ship, the crew fled in panic, neglecting to close the lower deck portholes, which is standard policy during emergency procedures. No alarm was raised. Passengers remained ignorant of the events taking place until they themselves witnessed the first signs of flooding in the lower decks. At this stage, eyewitness accounts reveal that many of the crew, including Captain Avranas, were already packed and ready to depart, seemingly unconcerned with the safety of the passengers...Wikipedia
...All 571 people onboard were saved, following one of the world’s most dramatic and successful rescue operations of its kind. Entertainers Julian Butler and Moss Hills recorded their efforts to assist the passengers with a home video recorder. Butler, Hills and Hills' wife Tracy were among the last five to be rescued from the ship just before it sank...
...Captain Yiannis Avranas was accused by the passengers of leaving hundreds behind with no one other than the ship's onboard entertainers to help them evacuate. Avranas claimed that he left the ship first in order to arrange for a rescue effort, and then supervised the rescue effort from a helicopter. Avranas stated, "When I give the order abandon ship, it doesn't matter what time I leave. Abandon is for everybody. If some people want to stay, they can stay."
The year after the sinking, Avranas and several members of his senior crew were found guilty of negligence by the Greek Maritime Board.
“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."