Rescues At Sea

Date 28/10/06
Location Tenerife
Summary 131 Rescued from Boat


131 refugees in distress
Boarding using the ships pilot ladder
Stretcher evacuation using the ships stores gantry

Whilst en route from Ponta do Ubu to Ijmuiden on 28/10/06 the MV “Snowdon” received an “urgency” navtex message from Tenerife at 16:56 GMT. At 17:40 GMT the ship received a distress relay from Tenerife informing them that yacht “Epicure” had activated her EPIRB. At 1800 GMT radio contact was established with Las Palmas radio and Tenerife traffic. Ships position was reported and they were told to standby. At 19:00 GMT it was reported that Spanish authorities had flown by the yacht that activated the distress and discovered that the distress was actually that the yacht had come across a large wooden boat with around 100 people onboard, some of whom appeared to be in a bad condition. The people on the boat had no food, water or fuel and reported that one person had died and been thrown overboard during the night.
At 19:30 GMT, Tenerife MRCC informed Snowdon that they were the closest vessel and they should proceed to the scene. Snowdon altered course and headed towards the Position of the yacht Epicure.
The problems related to rescuing over 100 refugees and taking them to a port of refugee are considerable and so during the night the vessel started to make arrangements on board. Contacts were being established between Zodiac, the Flag state, The Canary Island government and the Bermuda Flag Administration. All the correct arrangements with all the authorities involved including MRCC Madrid, the local authorities and harbour master in Las Palmas continued overnight and into the next day.
At first light the Snowdon with a full load draft of 16.9 metres manoeuvred in to position and stopped engine. Boarding started immediately using a pilot ladder and a stretcher was made available using the stores gantry crane. At 12:45 GMT on 29/10/06 the Snowdon had completed recovering all 131 on board the boat, including three women. All were in apparent good condition except one who was stretchered onboard due to a problem with his legs. Accommodation space was made available inside and outside with shelter, food and water provided as best as could be managed.
Following instructions, Snowdon then proceeded to Las Palmas. With the assistance of the Las Palmas authorities 4 immigration policemen were flown, by helicopter to the vessel on the morning of 30/10/06 to ensure the safety of all on board including the crew.
The vessel arrived in Las Palmas where the rescued immigrants were landed using salvage boats. Once ashore they were met by the red cross as well as TV and press reporters. The Snowdon resumed passage at 21:05 on 30/10/06.