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Gard’s correspondents in Spain, Messrs Bull Marine Surveyors S.L., have recently sent an account of a rescue at sea, documented with some good photographs, which illustrate this article.

The incident is reported below by Erik Bull Calvo, from Bull’s office, who witnessed the rescue operation:

“While performing a condition survey on board a vessel (fast ferry) covered by Gard I was on the bridge when we could hear over channel 16 the master of a container ship bound from Hong Kong to Algeciras reporting to have spotted one small boat with three persons on board, one of them wearing a life jacket. This master reported the finding to Tarifa Traffic but did not change course, probably anticipating the big problem he would have if he rescued the three persons and later had to disembark them in Spanish territory.

A short while later I was at the engine room with the chief engineer when we noticed that the engines had decreased revolutions. The chief engineer suggested we proceed upstairs to check what was happening, as it was unusual for the master to decrease the engines during sailing.

Upon arrival at the bridge we realised the master was manoeuvring the vessel at the Gibraltar Strait in order to rescue the men. They had been trying to cross the Gibraltar Strait from Africa in order to reach Spain. The three men were rescued after being at sea for four days with no water or food and drifting under Beaufort force 5-6 winds. The rescue operation took about 20 minutes.

Tangier authorities were informed and the three men were landed without a problem.”

A small vessel with three persons on board becomes visible.
One of the three persons can be seen wearing a life jacket.

It becomes apparent that the "vessel" is an inflatable rubber boat.
The fast ferry reaches the inflatable boat.

Hanging on for dear life!
Attempts begin to bring the men on board the fast ferry.

The crew reaches out to the men in distress.
The last man is brought safely on board.

Gard News 185, February/April 2007

Any comments to this article can be e-mailed to the Gard News Editor.

Gard News is published quarterly by Gard AS, Arendal, Norway.