Rescues At Sea

Date 31/07/08
Location Eastern Mediterranean
Summary Search and rescue for survivors of a capsized boat


The LPG Tanker Northumberland
The rescue boat returning with a survivor


The Northumberland is an LPG Tanker and was on passage from the Black Sea to Mellitah to when she received a distress call from VTS Malta. 

At 04:55 the Northumberland was requested to proceed to a position which was about 12 miles away to assist the tug boat 'Vitorin' which had commenced a search and rescue operation. The Northumberland altered course and increased to full speed. The Emergency response parties were mustered and the rescue boat was prepared. Additional lookouts were briefed and posted.

At 05:10 contact was made with the tug boat Vittorin on VHF channel 16 and she advised that she was searching for survivors from a capsized motor boat.   The Vittorin had picked up 28 survivors and reported that three more persons (2 female and 1 male) were still missing. The Vittorin was continuing to search in an area of debris and requested the Northumberland to assist in the search. 

Captain Kowalewski on the Northumberland briefed the emergency boat crew and reported the situation to the London Managers. 

At 06:00 all preparations were ready and at 06:30 the Northumberland arrived at the scene of capsize when she stopped engine and launched the rescue boat. Within a few minutes the body of a dead woman was found. The body was marked and the search for living survivors continued. A few minutes later a pregnant women was found clinging to debris, she was still alive but weak. She was picked up by the rescue boat and returned to the Northumberland while the rescue boat returned to the debris field to look for the last missing person.

The casualty was taken to the ships hospital for first aid, dry clothing and warm fluids. In less than half an hour the condition of the pregnant woman deteriorated quickly and she became very distressed and then stopped breathing, despite the best efforts of the crew who continued with resuscitation until a doctor arrived she could not be revived and she was confirmed as dead by the doctor at 09:40.


This was a very sad situation for our crew whose spirits were raised when they found a survivor, only to see her die when they had got on her on board and to safety.


We thank all the crew of the Northumberland for their best efforts to try to save lives, with a particular mention to Capt Kowalewski and Chief Officer Banshi who lead the rescue boat team.