This informative site was born 15 years after the tragedy that sank the Al Salam Boccaccio 98 ferry killing more than 1000 people, now that the truth is approaching.

It is the most serious maritime disaster in the history of Egypt, the ninth most serious ever in the world, except for military ships.

Our aim: to clarify, to reach the truth about the facts. And as relatives of the dead passengers we also want to help make navigation safer because in our opinion exposing the mistakes made on that occasion will help prevent them from happening again.

The international lawsuits for damages have begun in Italy since 2010, but they have been held for many years for procedural reasons raised by our opponents. To date, more than 15% of the families affected by the shipwreck are in the process, in addition to dozens of survivors also among the crew. It is the largest disaster and shipwreck legal case currently underway in the world.


Passengers on board
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Tragedy of all time

The Ship

It was a 130-meter-long ferry, one of the sister-ships of the class that in Italy had been called “Poets” and wanted by Tirrenia, a state-owned shipping company. Built between 1969 and 1970 by Italcantieri / Fincantieri of Castellamare di Stabia with the name of Boccaccio, until 1999 it followed numerous routes mainly between the mainland and Sardinia. In 1991, together with the sister vessels Carducci, Manzoni, Pascoli and Petrarca it underwent a deep modification work to increase the capacity of passengers which led to the addition of four upper decks, with sponsons.

According to our technical experts, that transformation is at the root of the tragedy.

Twin Ships


As you can see, the transformation is the same for all 5 sister vessels (fifth vessel you can see here in the extreme left of picture).

Two of these ships will sink within a few years of each other in 2002 and 2006 while the survivors will be withdrawn from navigation and scrapped in a few months between 2006 and 2007.













On the left the original version of the ferries, on the right the version after the radical transformations in 1990-1991.

As you can see from this official drawing that is in the litigation now, the Boccaccio was a total new ship exiting shipyard in 1991, she was top-heavy (and heavier), wider, taller, less resistant to wind pressure, totally different stability, impoverished stability.

click to open the image and, once the image is open, double-click to zoom in/out

Until April 1999 Boccaccio was owned by Tirrenia di Navigazione S.p.A.

In that year it was sold for about 2 million dollars to Pacific Sunlight Marine Inc. of Panama, an Egyptian capital company of the Ismail family, changed its name to Al Salam (“peace”) Boccaccio ’98 and, we are told, it was managed by the Egyptian El Salam Shipping and Trading. She was used on routes in the Red Sea and the Mediterranean.

The other transformed sisters also were bought by the same owner group. At the end of 2005 and until the sinking, the management of Al Salam Boccaccio is certainly of El Salam Maritime Transport Co. The Egyptian office of Pacific Sunlight Marine Inc. is located in the same building where both El Salam Maritime are located. Transport Co. that El Salam Shipping & Trading in 30, Yakoub Artin, Heliopolis, Cairo.

Four years earlier there was an identical very sinister accident: in 2002 one of Boccaccio’s sister ships transformed the Al Salam Petrarca ’90 was damaged by a fire, capsized on one side and sank while being towed out of the port of Dhiba (Saudi Arabia, Red Sea).

On that occasion a sailor died and 10 others were injured. A warning that remains unheard of, unheeded by those who had to watch and run for cover.

On February 2, 2006 around 19.51 local time (16.51 UTC), Al Salam Boccaccio ’98 leaves the moorings of Dhiba in Saudi Arabia with destination Safaga in Egypt with more than 1400 passengers and crewmen and a few dozen cars and motor vehicles but it will never reach its destination: a fire breaks out on board; extinguishing attempts require a large amount of seawater in the garage deck, which however to the crew’s surprise cannot be discharged due to the obstruction of the manholes (technically: scuppers), which together with the wind cause the ferry to skid on the starboard side; in the middle of the night at 23.33 UTC the ship quickly sinks taking with her the bodies of hundreds of people at a depth of 900 meters. Only 364 passengers and 24 crew members manage to escape and more than 700 bodies of our beloved ones are presumably still prisoners in the wreck.

Read the transcription of the black box. You will understand how the crew was surprised and harmstrung by the behavior of the vessel that was not discharging water, the fire was detected so late, the wind was hardly pushing it on one side. And you will also see that in this complicated situation the Master wants to avoid collision with nearby traffic, creates darkness in the bridge to have clear visual, puts one responsible crew and then goes downstairs to realize what is the severity of damages.

How is it possible that two identical ships, Al Salam Petrarca 90 and Al Salam Boccaccio 98 capsize and sink after the crews attempted to put out the fires on board? How can it happen that two identical ships managed by the same company suffer such severe fires as to lead to sinking? How is it possible that after a dramatic event like the first no one has foreseen and prevented the second? With the help of our lawyers one of the family members asked for information from those who knew the fleet of ships better than any other: RINA S.p.A. and Registro Italiano Navale.

Here we must inevitably simplify; in a nutshell they were the Italian classification societies for all the shipowners / operators who have succeeded in the management of the ferries, from before their construction until the day of the sinking. Tirrenia: 1969-1999; El Salam Shipping & Trading: 1998 / 9-2005; El Salam Maritime Transport Company: 2005-2006, these are the latest figures for Al Salam Boccaccio ’98.

In addition, the two entities were also responsible as “RO” acronym of recognized organizations – for the technical certification of navigation safety on behalf of the flag administration, first Italy then Panama since 1999.

Those documents were asked by one of the family members to understand what went wrong, but RINA S.p.A. denied them. So that family member had to file a lawsuit in an Italian court.

In 2007 the administrative court of Genoa (TAR) sentenced RINA to hand over part of the documentation and the technicians were able to begin studying the projects and inspections to which the ship had been subjected.

In another section you will find the sentence of the TAR.

RINA S.p.A. stated that as of 3.2.2006 these issued certificates were valid:

They also stated that since the renewal of the class certificate in 2003 they had carried out these visits and inspections on board:

This means that the ship was visited and inspected many many times a year.

If we calculate the 5 identical sister-ships in the fleet, the inspections on that type of ship happened been dozens and dozens over the years, approximately two hundred occasions to establish the safety of the ship, crew and company, but it was not enough.

Over time, we will make additional information available on this point as well.


This part is under construction. Come back, we will post additional plans and drawings soon.

There are several hypotheses regarding the stability of the sunken ferry. The three / four decks added even if with the arrangement of the sponsons may have seriously jeopardized the equilibrium of the Al Salam Boccaccio ’98, reduced the freeboard, reduced the stability margins. What is certain is that between June 2006 and January 2007 someone must have realized that it was a model ship to be taken out of circulation so all the unsinked twins (Al Salam Pascoli 96, Al Salam Manzoni 94, Al Salam Carducci 92), after having been withdrawn from the passenger transport market are scrapped in India at the Alang shipyard. Is it a coincidence? We do not believe it.

Photo Al Salam Carducci 92 being demolished in Alang, Gujarat, India. Courtesy our lawyers.

Official Documents

The Egyptian justice has celebrated a trial for multiple manslaughter and other crimes against judgment, Mr. Mamdouh Ismail, the main shareholder of the El Salam Group and several executives including his son Amr and others, with reference only to the phases following the sinking.

In July 2008, the commander of the Santa Catherine I ship was sentenced, that is the ferry of the same fleet that did not provide relief to the shipwrecked Al Salam Boccaccio 98 and Mr. Salah El Din Mahmoud Gomaa were convicted, while the others were acquitted.

On 11 March 2009, the Hurghada Court of Appeal upheld the conviction for Gomaa and above all sentenced the shipowner and the other defendants to imprisonment with forced labor of up to seven years for multiple manslaughter and other crimes.

For the phases following the sinking and thanks to the acquisition of phone calls between the ship and the land on the night of the tragedy, as well as between other ships in the fleet and the land and phone calls only ashore, it was found that the fleet managers were silent. The sinking of the ferry, hindered the emergence of the truth by the intervening authorities and managed the emergency in an uncoordinated and incapable manner, and confirming the absence of a safety culture in the heads of the shortcomings of the structure of the DPA (Designated Person Ashore) and top executives. The officers on board were left blind from many useful vital information from shore and those who were supposed to deliver proper calculi and warnings.

No trials in Egypt regarding the safety of the ship, its plans or the systems onboard.

The Panamanian investigation expressed two reports, one preliminary and one definitive, both of which can be downloaded on this site.

The preliminary report states that after an inspection on board the sister ship Al Salam Carducci 92, the garage floor is flooded in just 10 minutes if the water from the fixed fire prevention system is activated.

Note: as emerges from the test carried out on board one of the sister ships, under ideal conditions, it is evident that in a short period of time (10 minutes in this case), the amount of water accumulated can rapidly increase on the garage deck“.

Evidently, we say, there must have been a major technical-design problem: the water should be quickly discharged out of the hull not get trapped in the garage risking to overturn the ferry!

Another thing that the Panamanian report says, the definitive one, is that “The vessel’s fixed fire-fighting system was not capable of controlling or extinguishing the fire from its initial stage, which allowed the fire to expand out of proportion“.

How is that a ship can not control a fire? Who did the calculations of that system?

The administrative inquiries carried out in Egypt were various and the final technical report can be downloaded here. You can find the description of RINA’s involvement at the pages 36 and 37 of the Technical report.

The Egyptian investigators also noted a structural problem with the ship transformation project:

The design of the water drainage system from the garage and its level for discharging the water into the sea, prevents the water from being discharged from the garage into the sea if the ship tilts more than 6.5 °, since here the system works by gravity. This was verified by the committee through calculations that it carried out on board the sister ship Assalam 92 and through the letter from RINA dated 12 April 2006 (attachment number 10).

The committee inspected the Assalam 92 ferry and tested its fire extinguishing system. He further examined the amount of water discharged while the ferry was moored at the dock, under ideal circumstances. It was clear to the committee that the exhaust system was inefficient”.

Another country, another committee of experts but they agree that system was inefficient.


At this point a large number of families of the dead and surviving passengers filed suit in the court of Genoa where RINA S.p.A.’s headquarters are based, to hold the classification society responsible for the sinking and death of their loved ones. Our experts say: a problem of stability and a problem of International Safety Management failure.

We will give you more details as time goes by on the technical-scientific reasons.

The first hearing was held in January 2011.

RINA S.p.A. firmly rejects all the accusations and first of all asks the Court of Genoa to “summon” other people and companies that it believes are possibly guilty of the sinking. The list is long, there are 11 subjects between Egypt and Panama: El Salam Maritime Transport Company, Mamdouh Ismail (president of the Board of Directors), Mamdouh Orabi Fleet director, Nabil El-Sayed Ibrahim Shalabi, Director of the Safaga branch, Salah El- Din Mahmoud Gomaa Commander of m / s St. Catherine, Al Salam Shipping & Trading, Pacific Sunlight Marine Inc., Panama Shipping Registrar (Psr), the Egyptian Shipping Safety Agency, the Egyptian Red Sea Port Authority, the Egyptian Ministry of Transport.

The families are worried and they fear it will become a pretext to block the case for years as the maritime industry is used to do from centuries. The Tribunal rejected the request.

But RINA, has many others another exception and one instead works very well and paralyzes the process for the next 10 years: they argue that the lawsuit should be filed in Panama and not in Genoa because the ship had a Panamanian flag and the inspections and certifications of RINA were made on behalf of that state, therefore RINA should be treated as a foreign ruler who can only be tried by the courts of his country. In a word “sovereign immunity”.

The Court of Genoa agrees with RINA in 2012.

Ligurian authors of legal doctrine rally around RINA and confirm that the lawsuit must be filed in Panama.

The Court of Appeal agrees with RINA in 2014.

A second group of heirs and relatives of the dead passengers joins the first families, and they also sue Registro Italiano Navale, the parent company of the S.p.A.

At that point, we are in 2014, the families leave the Ligurian court and take their complaints away from Genoa and from that moment they win in the two most important places of continental justice: the Court of Justice of the European Union, in May 2020, and the United Sections of the Italian Supreme Court of Cassation, in December 2020.

These are 2 historical judgments that soundly overturn the decisions of the Ligurian magistrates and the spurious exception advanced by the defendants of “sovereign immunity”: human rights are expressly cited by the Supreme Court as “the centerpiece” of Italian legal system!

So, the 2 lawsuits can finally return to Genoa and start again.

Photo: part of our team of lawyers in Luxembourg for the “sovereign immunity” hearing (won)


The principles of this decision in defeating Classification Societies tentatives to escape justice are so important that the CJEU included it in 2020 Annual Report that you can read here.

The “sister” decision of the Italian Supreme Court was so important as well for Italian future jurisprudence therefore it is mentioned in two annual reports of the Superior School of the Magistrates and the Supreme Court itself. You can read both of them here below:

  1. SSM Notiziario della Scuola superiore della Magistratura n.1/2021
  2. Corte Suprema Cassazione – Relazione 2021 Primo Presidente

Speaking about decisions, one shall not forget those for the environmental disaster produced by the sinking of the oil tanker Erika in 1999 which sank in the Bay of Biscay, France, devastating the Breton coasts and causing one of the most serious environmental disasters of mankind.

The tanker Erika minutes before disappearing under the Atlantic Ocean

RINA was the classification society and was involved in the criminal trial together with inspectors and other entities for pollution and civil liability by numerous French territorial authorities for damage to ecology.

On appeal it was said that “the extension of the class certificate which he has imprudently granted entails the criminal responsibility of RINA SpA. Had ALGA not endorsed this certificate, which is essential for navigation, the Erika could not have taken the sea and gone to Dunkirk to be loaded with fuel oil. The shipwreck and pollution would not have occurred. This act of unjustifiable imprudence on the part of RINA SpA is directly at the origin of the accident given that the ship, in the state in which it was left to leave, could not fail to encounter, in a more or less short period, serious damage to the hull. , likely to lead her to shipwreck. The inspector could not ignore that by committing this unjustifiable fault, he exposed the crew to the risk of drowning and the cargo to that of ending up in the sea, causing lasting environmental contamination. The fault attributable to RINA SpA alone, entrusted with the mission of supervising the compliance of certified ships in order to guarantee safe navigation, had very serious consequences on the ecosystems affected by the oil spill. The pecuniary sanction imposed by the court, which takes full account of the resources of RINA Spa, is to be considered adequate and justified and will therefore be confirmed “.

So RINA was held jointly responsible with other parties in all levels of judgment, with a final sentence of the French Criminal Court of Cassation of 25 September 2012.

We know that a few years ago RINA definitively settled the matter of compensation.



As we told you after being kept away from the real faults of the sinking and the tragedy, the Court of Genoa was forced by the Italian and European Courts to restart the two cases (that were joined). After the summer of 2021 the new judge decided to understand how the facts went, what were the obligations and duties of RINA S.p.A. and REGISTRO ITALIANO NAVALE and has appointed three experts who will have to say whether the sinking of the ship and the death of the passengers is the fault of the Italian entities, as well as explaining how much the Master’s conduct alone affected (if anything) the events.

Our lawyers asked the Judge and obtained to exclude from the consultants an expert whose company was certified by RINA, as it is essential for us that there is not even a shade of conflict of interest between the work of the judge’s consultants and the world of Italian shipping which governs the board of directors of REGISTRO ITALIANO NAVALE. In fact, the Technical Consultants of the Office must be equidistant and impartial with respect to the parties involved exactly like the judges.

It is the largest maritime cause for naval disaster in the world, and our families have named 8 experts from many disciplines – stability, shipbuilding, ship handling, international safety management, fire and explosion, safety of navigation, marine science, conduct of passenger ships ro-ro.

in the meantime it is noteworthy that now our opponent RINA S.p.A. includes this judicial case in their Annual Reports of 2020 and 2021 under the paragraph “main incidents and potential risks, and here is an excerpt of 2021 document.


We expect the first ideas from the judge’s consultants for the beginning of the summer of 2022.

The next hearing will be in May 2023.

Media Resources

We are progressively loading other resources that may be interesting.

Extract from the video on board the ship dated February 2, 2006

Sahar Arabi, director of The Youngest Survivor, explains the path to making this story

Statement by our attorney Robert Lieff visiting Colleagues in Turin, Italy

Happy to be here and I’m Robert L. Lieff from the United States with offices in San Francisco and New York and I’m delighted to be here in Torino working with my friends on your case.
We are doing everything we can to make sure Justice is yours and you deserve it after all this time and I do not think that this should take 22 years as the famous “Exxon Valdez”’s case took us.

We hope to be finished much sooner.

Thank you!