Sunday 26 March 2017

Rescue run from 4,000 miles away

An RNLI volunteer co-ordinated a rescue in the Caribbean from 4,000 miles away by phone
An RNLI volunteer co-ordinated a rescue in the Caribbean from 4,000 miles away by phone

A lifeboat crewman orchestrated a dramatic sea rescue 4,000 miles away in the Caribbean from a DIY store in Britain.

When Alex Evans answered his mobile phone he was stunned to hear best friend Mark Corbett, 25, shouting: "Alex I need your help."

The RNLI volunteer, 27, from Aberystwyth, west Wales, was even more perturbed when he learned his friend claimed he was in a fast sinking ship called the Titanic.

The unlikely call came just one day before April 1 as he queued with his mum to pay at a DIY store in his home town.

After ensuring he was not the butt of an elaborate practical joke, Mr Evans coordinated a dramatic sea rescue from the store's kitchen section, rapidly taking down the grid reference of the 1,700 ton ship's location on a till receipt and alerting Milford Haven coastguard.

It was later discovered the Titanic belonged to a company called White Star Ltd, the same name as the cruise line which owned the ill-fated original.

"He called me because it was the only number that he could remember in his panic. I think it was either me or his mum," Mr Evans said.

"I think his mum might not have had as much luck if she rang up the coastguard and said 'my son is in a sinking ship in the Caribbean called the Titanic'."

He said Mr Corbett, also from Aberystwyth, was near the island of Grenada, in the Atlantic, and the engine room had already taken on 8ft of water. The ship was too far from shore to use its VHF radio, lack of power had cut off long range radio links, and the small crew was left with just the satellite phone, and a panicked Mr Corbett was reduced to dialling numbers he knew by heart.

His call proved to be a life-saver as the emergency alert was transferred to Falmouth Coastguard, which deals with international incidents. Within an hour the American coastguard and a French spotter plane were scrambled and a US coastguard cutter eventually towed the ship to safety.

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