The Stellamare is a Class B heavy lifting ship owned by the Jumbo Shipping Company, and is registered out of the Netherlands Antilles. The ship has an overall length of 88.2 meters and an overall width of 15.5 meters. The ship's cranes can lift 360 tons when working in tandem. The Stellamare was constructed in 1982 by the van Diepen Shipyards of Waterhuizen, the Netherlands.
On December 9th, 2003, the Stellamare was docked at the Port of Albany, New York, preparing to load a shipment of General Electric generators bound for Romania, weighing a total of 661 tons. The Stellamare had a crew of 18, all of Russian nationality. Under normal circumstances, the generators would have been loaded separately, with the next load being placed on the ship after the previous load was welded to the cargo hold of the ship. However, a recent policy change at the port allowed the crane operators to load all the turbines on the ship at once, and then secure the load to the cargo hold.
At approximately 3:00pm local time, the crane operators began to load the second turbine onto the Stellamare, and the ship began to list to port. The reason for the list is still under investigation. As the list increased, the Stellamare began to take on water, which in turn increased the list. The ship slowly rolled away from the dock, throwing the 18 crewmembers into the freezing Hudson River. Immediately, the crew of the nearby ship Carson Rock, and the tugboat Rhea I. Bouchard from the Port of Rensselaer began pulling people from the water. Fifteen of the eighteen crew members were pulled from the river alive, some of which were taken to Saint Peter's Hospital and Albany Medical Center for shock and hypothermia.
By 4:00pm local time, The Coast Guard arrived at the port, under Commander John Cameron, and began assessing the situation. The Port of Albany did not have the schematics of the Stellamare on file, so Coast Guard divers were only allowed in the water around the ship to begin the search. Rescue efforts were further hindered by the ice and snow that was choking the river, a result of a heavy nor'easter that had hit the area a week before. All traffic on the Hudson was immediately suspended, for fear that any passing ships might drag debris or missing crewmembers under the ice or farther down river. The divers searched the waters for several days, eventually recovering the bodies of two crewmen. The other fifteen members of the crew recovered in Albany, and were allowed to travel home to Saint Petersburg on December 18th.
Work crews at the port have recovered both generators from the scene. The generator that was being loaded at the time of the accident was retrieved from the bottom of the river on December 18th, while the generator that was in the cargo hold was removed from the ship on December 30th. A crane located on a barge working in conjunction with a crane at the Port of Albany brought the ship off of its hull while the water contained in the cargo hold was pumped out. On January 5th, the body of the last missing crewman was discovered among the debris in the hold. A Coast Guard investigation of the accident is still underway.
The Jumbo Shipping Company had listed the Stellamare as a CTL or 'constructive total loss' and sold the ship to Port Terminal Ltd, which is attempting to make the ship seaworthy. On May 19, a granite memorial was placed at the Port of Albany, and was dedicated to the three lost sailors.