One mariner remains missing after 13 of 14 crewmembers were recovered from the sea following the sinking of their oil tanker in severe weather conditions 240 miles off the coast of Yemen.
At around 4:30 a.m. June 26, the U.K. Coastguard received a Mayday distress call issued by a 99-meter-long Panamanian flagged oil tanker believed to be carrying crude oil, reporting that the vessel was sinking.
The Yemen Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) were unable to assist, so the U.K. Coastguard stepped in to coordinate the rescue, issuing a Satellite Communication Mayday relay broadcast to all shipping in the area.
Multiple commercial vessels nearby responded to the original Mayday call and made their way to the tanker, which had sunk in gale force 8 winds and 5 meters swells.
Commercial vessels recovered 12 of the 14 crew, who were wearing life jackets and immersion suits, from the water, and another was recovered by a Royal Navy Rescue Helicopter. One crew member remains unaccounted for.
There is evidence that the 3,000 metric tons of oil the tanker was carrying has gone down with the vessel, the U.K. Coastguard said.
Steve Carson, Commander for U.K. Coastguard said, “This was a desperate situation for the 14 crewmen, who were given no other option but to jump into the sea after the tanker sank in severe weather conditions. Given the fact that Yemen does not have a Coastguard to assist with these types of incidents, the U.K. Coastguard stepped in to lead the search and rescue mission. It was incredibly lucky that commercial vessels were nearby and managed to make their way to the scene quite quickly and rescue 12 crew members. Sadly, one crew member is unaccounted for and due to the weather conditions on scene and the oil spilled, the commercial vessels are unable to deploy their lifeboats. Our priority is to protect life at sea and we will always do everything possible to provide assistance for a mariner in need. In the event we can't get there ourselves, we do our best to identify someone who can, which is exactly what we did in this case.”