Friday, December 18, 2009

Vive Amver! Final Update On Bermuda Rescue

Wellington Star 2

Three French sailors will be home for the holidays after being rescued from their capsized sailboat 600 miles east northeast of Bermuda early Sunday morning December 13, 2009. Fortunately the yachtsmen were well prepared with survival equipment and a 406 MHz Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon, or EPIRB.

The French trio first encountered trouble when their 40 foot sailboat, F Et Mer, capsized the evening of December 12th. According to survivor reports, they sent a distress signal but were unable to deploy the lifeboat due to damage sustained in the capsize.

Rescue officials, having received the distress beacon's signal, requested the Bahamian flagged cargo ship Wellington Star to divert and steam towards the last known position of the F Et Mer. Captain Eduard Rogov, master of the Amver participating cargo ship, was only 92 miles from the location of the French sailors when he set a course to rescue them.

Once Captain Rogov was on the scene he quickly saw the yacht had also suffered a broken mast, damaged rudder, and hull damage. "They were taking on water at about five gallons an hour," said Captain Rogov. "The weather and night conditions complicated the rescue. I estimated the winds to be Force 9 on the Beaufort Scale [47-54 mph] with waves in excess of 26 feet," he added.

Despite the challenging conditions, Captain Rogov's crew was able to rescue all three Frenchmen. The crew of the Wellington Star quickly evaluated their condition and gave them dry clothes and food. The Wellington Star is managed by Dobson Fleet Management Ltd of Cyprus.

"The Coast Guard provides the technology to coordinate the Amver alerts, but it is the commitment of our partners in the commercial shipping community that makes this program successful," said Rear Admiral Wayne Justice, Commander of the United States Coast Guard's Fifth District and the command center responsible for coordinating the rescue.

The fate of the sailboat was not as fortunate. The F Et Mer was left adrift and marked as a hazard to navigation. The survivors were taken to the Wellington Star's next port call, New Bedford, MA where there were met by U.S. officials to help them return home.

Photo credit: crew of the M/V Wellington Star

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