CMC – The British Royal Navy says that it recently rescued all five crew of an ocean-going tug in the Caribbean Sea when the vessel started to sink in choppy seas.
In a statement on Saturday, the Royal Navy said the HMS Medway – that has a permanent presence in the region, was conducting her first patrol of the year when the crew – “plucked the tug crew off the large barge of sand they had been towing when their tug began to flood.
“When the vessel’s engines failed, they took refuge on the barge – but not before sending out an SOS around 1:00 p.m. (local time) on Friday, ome 20 miles west of the island of Sint Maarten, near to the British Overseas Territory of Anguilla,” said the Royal Navy in a statement.
“Patrol ship HMS Medway with her 50 crew was little more than a dozen miles away and picked up the Mayday straight away,” it added.
After consulting with the regional Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre in Martinique, the Royal Navy said the ship altered course and increased speed, reaching the stricken tug and barge in little more than 20 minutes.
“Whilst we were cautious, as we made our approach to the barge and tug, we were able to reassure the crew and transfer them clear of the barge safely,” Griffiths said. “They were hugely grateful.”
The Royal Navy said the five-tug crew were not injured, but shaken and relieved to be rescued.
“They were carried back to HMS Medway and have now been handed over to a Search and Rescue boat from Anguilla, which arrived as the rescue ended,” it said.
“The whole ship’s company leapt into action as soon as we made the decision to respond,” said Lieutenant Commander Carla Higgins, Medway’s executive officer in temporary command of the 2,000-tonne patrol ship.
The Royal Navy said although low in the water, the tug did not sink when Medway left the area to resume her maiden patrol of 2023.
The ship operates across the Caribbean/Gulf of Mexico and into the Atlantic all year round, supporting British Overseas Territories in the region, providing assistance in the wake of natural disasters (especially during the Atlantic hurricane season), and working with regional authorities to tackle the illegal narcotics trade, the Royal Navy said.
Last autumn, it said the ship intercepted a £24m cocaine shipment in a combined operation with the US Coast Guard, and provided assistance in the wake of the two strongest storms to strike the Caribbean: Hurricanes Fiona and Ian.