Photo courtesy Royal Navy

Royal Navy Rescues Five from Sinking Tug in the Caribbean

Mike Schuler
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January 9, 2023

The crew of a Royal Navy offshore patrol vessel rescued five seafarers from a sinking tugboat in the Caribbean.

The rescue took place Friday afternoon when the crew of the HMS Medway picked up a distress call from a tugboat some 20 miles west of the island of Sint Maarten, near to the British Overseas Territory of Anguilla, located a little more than 12 miles from the patrol ship’s location.

After the tug began to flood, the tug’s crew took shelter on the barge they were towing.

Weather at the time was warm but windy with gusts up to 30 knots, heavy showers, and waves up to five feet.

Medway’s boatswain Petty Officer (Seaman Specialist) Sarah Griffiths coordinated the launch of the Medway’s sea boat to reach stricken vessel.

“Whilst we were cautious as we made our approach to the barge and tug we were able to reassure the crew and transfer them clear of the barge safely. They were hugely grateful,” she said.

Photo courtesy Royal Navy

The tug’s five crew members were not injured, but relieved to be rescued. They were carried back to HMS Medway and handed over to a Search and Rescue boat from Anguilla, which arrived as the rescue ended.

“The whole ship’s company leapt into action as soon as we made the decision to respond,” said Lieutenant Commander Carla Higgins, Medway’s Executive Officer in temporary command of the 2,000-tonne patrol ship. “The swift thinking and actions of the team were fantastic and we were thankful to be conducting routine maritime security operations in the area to become the on-scene commander working with the local authorities and assist the crew to safety.”

Photo courtesy Royal Navy

The tug was “low in the water” but still afloat when Medway left the area.

The HMS Medway is permanently deployed to the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico in support of British Overseas Territories in the region. She recently underwent maintenance in Florida after a busy fall patrol, which included a nearly $30 million cocaine seizure with the U.S. Coast Guard and providing assistance in the wake hurricanes Fiona and Ian.

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