Royal Navy patrol ship rescues crew of sinking tug in Caribbean

Photo: Royal Navy

The crew of a Royal Navy offshore patrol vessel (OPV) successfully rescued all five occupants of a tug that suffered water ingress and was in danger of sinking near the Dutch Caribbean territory of Sint Maarten on Friday, January 6.

The OPV HMS Medway was conducting its first patrol of the year when it was called upon to assist the crew of the distressed tug, which was then being used to tow a barge laden with a cargo of sand.

The tug’s engines failed and flooding was detected, prompting the crew to send out a mayday call at around 13:00 local time on Friday. The crew then sought refuge on the barge, which remained afloat.

Medway received the mayday call and immediately sailed to the area to render assistance. The Royal Navy said that, after consulting with the regional Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre in Martinique, the OPV altered course and increased speed, reaching the stricken tug and barge in little more than 20 minutes.

Medway launched a sea boat and safely evacuated the five tug crewmembers even as the area was beset by rain squalls and wind gusts of up to 30 knots.

The survivors suffered no injuries. They were later handed over to a search and rescue boat from Anguilla, which later arrived in the area.

Though low in the water, the tug had not sunk when Medway left the area to resume its maiden patrol of 2023.

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