Georgia - A seaside country without ships
02 April, 2015
Georgia - A seaside country without ships
The Sad Story of the Georgian Fleet

Disintegration of the Georgian Fleet has more than once become the topic of discussions. But very few people nowadays know about the fate of the ships that went by the names of “Davit Agmashenebeli,” “Akaki Tsereteli,” “Ilia Chavchavadze,” “Academician Uznadze,” “Nodar Dumbadze” and others. Some of them were turned into scrap metal; others sail under different countries’ flags. Paata Tabaghua, a member of Filmmakers Union, whose many works are dedicated to the sea,
discussed this and other interesting issues with Georgian Journal:

“Georgian ships sold for scrap metal now sail under other countries’ flags”

– I’ve created many TV programs about long naval voyages and witnessed a lot of interesting stories. During all this time I collected quite a bit of unique archive data. In 1990-ies, when the Soviet Union disintegrated, we became an independent sea country with a fleet, but unfortunately, we failed to retain it. Due to big political and economic changes in the independent country, the management was not perfect and the ships that encountered no problems in Soviet times became loose ends. Naturally, many timeservers of that period attempted to fish in murky waters, assisted the development of negative processes and sold precious ships at the price of scrap metal.
After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, our fleet was 56 ships strong. About half of this number consisted of tankers, and about 16-17 were bulk freighters. The situation we are in today is quite mournful: We have no merchant fleet and we have no shipyards to rebuild it. It’s hardly surprising that we have no navy either. In 1999, everything about our fleet went belly up. It is regrettable that ships sold as scrap metal now sail under other countries’ flags, replenishing their budgets.

– Could you name any of them?

– After regaining independence, Georgia had two huge ships – “Akaki Tsereteli” and “Davit Aghmashenebeli.” Their names have been changed and now they sail under the Turkish flag. Last year, both of them were resold. We also had many other ships: “Academician Vekua,” “Nodar Dumbadze,” “Ilia Chavchavadze,” “Academician Uznadze,” “Nato Vachnadze,” etc. For example, “Nodar Dumbadze” was recycled for scrap. The ships that were sold were high-class, automated vessels, equipped with modern navigation technology. In their time they cast anchor in about 200 ports of more than 60 countries of the world. “Academician Uznadze” now belongs to the Koreans; our “Kolkhida” is owned by the Dominican Republic. “Giorgi Leonidze,” the former bulker of the Georgian Fleet, hit rock bottom and sank near the Vietnamese shore in the South Chinese Sea on the 31st of March, 2003. It sailed under the Vietnamese flag and was renamed into Bach Dang Giang.

“The picture of “Shota Rustaveli” anchored in the Sokhumi Port is an example of classicism for me. Each ship I’ve told you about wrote the maritime history of Georgia”

– Which ships out of the ones mentioned had the largest displacement?

– “Davit Aghmashenebeli” and “Akaki Tsereteli.”

– And for how much were they sold?

– For a lousy sum. This, of course, serves to show the deplorable condition our country was in. The picture of “Shota Rustaveli” anchored in the Sokhumi Port is an example of classicism for me. Each ship I’ve told you about wrote the maritime history of Georgia. We are not a landlocked country, but despite this we are still on the road to becoming a sea state. There is a long way to go yet. The whole world has to recognize the certificates issued by our country as valid in order to allow our sailors to be employed on the ships sailing under the flags of EU countries. Due to the fact that we are deprived of this, our sailors work on dangerous ships belonging to dubious companies. Activation of the sea-transit function of our country is also very important. Georgia is a sea country and its location gives us great privilege. 

“Davit Aghmashenebeli”

“Akaki Tsereteli”

“Shota Rustaveli”

"Nato Vachnadze"

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