Black Sea Shipping Company (BLASCO)

Soviet Union, Ukraine


BLASCO issued postcard, 1975.


Built: 1967 by Mathias-Thesen-Werft, Wismar, (East) Germany). Renovations in 1988.


Overall length: 176.1 m

Beam: 23.6 m

Draft: 8 m

Gross Tonnage: 20029 tons

Passengers: 750

Power: 2 Sulzer Diesels, 21000 HP

Service Speed: 20.3 knots

Operating Routes: New York-Montreal service in early years. Worldwide cruising later, mostly in the Mediterranean and European routes, with occasional African and Australian cruises.

Sister (or similar) Ships:
- M.S. Shota Rustaveli.
- M.S. Ivan Franko (scrapped in India in 1997 as M.S. Frank).
- M.S. Aleksandr Pushkin (In 1992, she was purchased by the Orient Lines and renamed M.S. Marco Polo.)
- M.S. Mikhail Lermontov (On February 16th, 1986, she hit a reef off Cape Jackson, New Zealand and sank in 36 m of water with one life loss, She is a SCUBA diving attraction now).

Former Names: None.

Later Names: None

- 1967-2002: Black Sea Shipping Company (BLASCO), Odessa, Soviet Union, then Ukraine.
- 1998-Present: Laid-up at Ilyichevsk, Ukraine.

History and Current Status: M.S. Taras Shevchenko is the third vessel built by Mathias-Thesen-Werft of (East) Germany, in the so-called "Five Poets" series, consisting of the vessels given in the "Sister Ships" section above. M.S. Taras Shevchenko always served very succesfully in liner services and cruising market under the management of the BLASCO, from 1967 to 1998. In late 1998, she got laid up in Ilyichevsk, Ukraine, due to BLASCO debts. For years and years, there was dispute about who the real owner of the ship is. The entire process was also complicated by illegal auctions with very cheap prices and false court decisions. In September 2001, there were rumors that she was going back to service under the management of an ex-manager of BLASCO, who was going to invest about $3M (half for purchase and half for refurbishing) on her. Supposedly, she was kept beautifully when laid up and everything on board was in very good condition, including the machinery. I have not heard anything about this purchase afterwards. It is likely that she will be operating between Israel and Ukraine if she is ever back in service since there is demand from the citizens of the old Sovet Republics to see the Holy Land.

In May 2002, I heard that she got acquired by Antarctica Shipping. According to Patrick Wetter, the company, which dealt with fishing industry in the past, has a new cruise extension managed by ex BLASCO executives. The final purchase will occur after the refurbishments and the payment of the final sale price of 2.5 million USD, which is the total amount of debt the ship was seized for. The ship is expected to start sailing in 2002.

Some events from her past:
- In June 1998, in the Straits of Dardanelles, Turkey, on her way from Piraeus to Odessa, some Azerbaijani passengers revolted on board, saying that they were being held hostage. This proved to be a false alarm, originated from a commercial dispute between passengers and management on board.

(email all info about her to ata.bilgili@dartmouth.edu)

Notes: With her tough ice-strengthened black hull, white bulky superstructure, powerful on-deck hoisting gear and beefy funnel, M.S. Taras Shevchenko always imposed trust on me. She looked like she was always ready to go cross the Atlantic at full speed in the worst of the storms... Besides this tough look, she was also a good looking big lady. Especially elegant were the look, placement and design of the yellow lettering/lines combination with the red star on the bow, a detail nicely shown in the above picture. Her grace and powerful looks luckily never changed, even late in her career, while she was completely painted in white. I am looking forward for her to follow the footsteps of her sister, M.S. Shota Rustaveli. Who knows, maybe one day, I'll bump into her in Bosphorus, on her way to the Mediterranean. Or is it just a dream?


- A May 1999 news article from the Ukrainian newspaper The Day, discussing the cheap selling prices for M.S. Taras Shevchenko, as well as M.S. Odessa Sun and M.S. Shota Rustaveli.
- Frederic Bartoli's M.S. Taras Shevchenko page.
- Laid-up M.S. Taras Shevchenko from the camera of Nikolay Pridhodko at Aleksi Lindstrom's site Ships & Ships.

Line Drawings: From the book "Soviet Bloc Merchant Ships" by Bruno Bock and Klaus Bock, 1981.

Other Pictures: None.

Postcards from My Collection:

tarasshevchenko_bro0.jpg ()
tarasshevchenko_pc4.jpg ()
tarasshevchenko_pc5.jpg ()
tarasshevchenko_pc3.jpg ()
 BLASCO issued brochure cover.
Early 80's.
 BLASCO issued postcard.
 BLASCO issued postcard.
 BLASCO issued postcard.
tarasshevchenko_pc1.jpg ()
tarasshevchenko_pc0.jpg ()
 Unknown origin. BLASCO? CTC?.
Date unknown.
 Pieter Oost postcard.
Ijmuiden, Netherlands. June 1993.

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