Monday, July 5, 2021

Tragedy at Sea Indelibly Reinforces the Importance of Maritime Safety Week

Vigilance and Cooperation are the Watchwords
Shipping News Feature

UK – CANARY ISLES – As Maritime Safety Week (5-9 July 2021) opens, comes a story of a dramatic rescue tinged with tragedy on the high seas. After 17 days in an open boat crossing the Atlantic a five year old girl died in the Spanish Air Force helicopter which disembarked her from the bulk carrier which had plucked 35 survivors from the sea.

The 93,700 tonne dry bulk carrier, operated by K Line came across the small boat on 29 June at a point in the Atlantic between Nouadhibou (Mauritania) and Dakhla (Sahara), two of the most frequent places of departure for boats of this type to the Canary Islands. Local reports say one man was already dead when the Cape Taweelah sent her emergency request for assistance.

The immediate despatch of a rescue craft, the Guardamar Talía from Gran Canaria was aborted after 160 kilometres when the bulker reported a successful rescue of 13 men, 16 women and 6 children despite extremely bad sea conditions which had led to hesitation in making the attempt for fear of swamping the small craft.

The ensuing collection of the little girl and a seriously ill woman in a rescue flight of almost 500 kilometres ended in tragedy when the girl expired during the flight despite all attempts to save her. The captain and crew of the Cape Taweelah received a letter of appreciation and an award plate from the Marine Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) Las Palmas for their actions.

Meanwhile in Britain Maritime Safety Week gets underway and gives an opportunity for all key organisations, including HM Coastguard, charities and port authorities, to share best safety practices and knowledge, and challenge each other to enhance their already rigorous standards.

To mark the beginning of the fourth annual Maritime Safety Week, Maritime Minister Robert Courts is visiting the Port of London Authority (PLA) to see first-hand its maritime pilot training space and meet some of the pilots trained to board commercial vessels to ensure safe passage. The PLA manages 95 miles of the Thames and is the UK’s busiest waterway. The Minister commented:

”The UK has always been at the forefront of international maritime safety and, with more people than ever expected to be visiting our coastline and waterways this summer, it’s important that everyone knows how to stay safe and keep afloat. This is why, this year, we will be working with key maritime safety partners to boost funding for maritime safety campaign activity and keep the public safe.”

Throughout the week, sector bodies will be highlighting the dangers of the maritime environment, helping to reduce preventable maritime accidents and taking stock of the fantastic and innovative work that is already being delivered. The Minister will also be visiting a Royal Yachting Association training centre, promoting the availability of training courses in anticipation of a recreational water sports boom this year, and joining Trinity House on its inspection visit to see the vital role the General Lighthouse Authorities play in keeping the coasts safe.

Photo: The dramatic sight of the survivors in the small boat being saved by the crew of the bulk carrier after 17 days at sea.