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INMARSAT Features in Two Dramatic Rescues.

09 November, 2010

The International Maritime Research Co-ordination Centre (IMRCC) at Falmouth in the UK featured prominently in the successful rescue of 140 children and adults safely ashore in two recent maritime incidents.

The first incident involved a massive operation to rescue 98 people from life rafts after Athena-a factory fishing vessel - caught fire 230 miles south-west of the Isles of Scilly. ATHENA's Master ordered 98 non essential personnel to abandon the vessel using her life rafts and kept a skeleton crew of 13 on board for firefighting operations. ATHENA's distress call that was picked up by the French maritime authorities in Cape Grinez picked up the distress signal who relayed it to the Falmouth IMRCC. Falmouth contacted ATENA the area via Inmarsat C and relayed the distress message via the SafetyNET system to vessels in the vicinity. Among the responses was one from the container vessel VEGA which succeeded in plucking all of those, including women in the life rafts from the clutches of the sea. 

The fire on board was controlled by the retained fire fighting party with ATHENA proceeding to Falmouth and on route shore based firefighters from the UK were placed on onboard by helicopters.

The second incident took resulted from the dismasting of the Polish registered tall ship FRYDERYK CHOPIN some 130 miles west of the Scilly Isles. The vessel lost both its fasts in heavy weather and after a 3 day tow arrived in Falmouth. On board were 36 teenage cadets and a crew of 47 all of whom were none the worse for their misadventure.

The Falmouth IMRCC used Inmarsat C to send out a SafetyNET system message and Long Range Identification and Tracking (LRIT) to identify ships in the area to check whether they would be prepared to go to the Fryderyk Chopin's assistance after receiving the Mayday. This brought a response from 3 vessels all of which proceeded to the scene. They were joined by a the large fishing vessel NOVA SPERO that undertook the tow to FALMOUTH.

The Polish prime minister Donald Tusk - who followed the news of the incident - thanked everyone involved in the rescue effort.

In both cases, the IMRCC at Falmouth in the UK then used the Inmarsat C SafetyNET system to broadcast appeals to shipping in the region to go to the aid of the stricken sailors.

Rescue co-ordination centre manager, James Instance, said: "The distress and alert systems provided by Inmarsat proved invaluable in both these incidents.


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