The Indian Coast Guard is hailing their efforts in what they call a “fast and fast search and rescue (SAR) mission” which saved the lives of 15 Syrian sailors after they abandoned their sinking cargo ship. They were all successfully recovered from lifeboats and lift rafts despite what the Coast Guard said were harsh conditions and bad weather.
The circumstances leading up to the rescue are confusing, with some reports suggesting the vessel, a 32-year-old general freighter sailing under the flag of Belize, suffered mechanical failure while other reports suggest it may have been intentionally failed. The Indian Coast Guard reported receiving a distress call on June 21, with the crew telling them they were preparing to abandon the ship named Princess Miral.
Crew rescued from lifeboats and rafts (Indian Coast Guard)
The 7,000 dwt general cargo ship had loaded an 8,000 ton cargo of steel coils in China in May. He had stopped at the Port Klang anchorage in early June and was off the Indian coast at the start of the week. It anchored north of New Mangalore, India on June 18, but later appears to have repositioned itself south of the port city. The ship was sailing towards the Suez Canal where it was to transit in early July en route to Lebanon.
After running aground, the ship reported breaches in the hull that were causing water to enter the holds. Footage released by the Indian Coastguard, however, shows the ship sinking from the stern.
Commander SB Venkatesh of the Indian Coast Guard told The Times of India: “In my more than 30 years of service, this was the most daring mission undertaken to rescue seafarers. The successful operation reaffirms the capabilities of the Coast Guard.
Two Indian Coast Guard vessels, the VikramName and Amartya were dispatched in response to the distress call. The crew were rescued from the boats and transferred ashore where they are being interviewed to further determine the circumstances that led to the emergency. It is not known if the ship remains afloat on a reef or if it sank after the rescue.