Crew in mayday rescue

PUBLISHED: 11:19 15 March 2007 | UPDATED: 11:40 06 May 2010

FOUR sailors were rescued off the coast of Italy as the liferaft they were in began to sink. The crew, who are from Hitchin, were in the raft after the boat they were in had caught fire and they were forced to abandon ship on Tuesday evening. The captain,

FOUR sailors were rescued off the coast of Italy as the liferaft they were in began to sink.

The crew, who are from Hitchin, were in the raft after the boat they were in had caught fire and they were forced to abandon ship on Tuesday evening.

The captain, Matthew Sillars, and his crew, thought to be Jim Prendergast, David Fuller and Rob Cunningham, issued a mayday as the raft began to take in water just after 9pm.

Not having a phone number for the coastguard in Italy, the crew used the only number on their phone - that of the Solent Coastguard in Lee-on-Sea back in England.

The crew told the coastguard, based in Hampshire, of their situation, and the satellite phone call was then put through to Falmouth coastguards, who deal with international calls.

Staff in Falmouth then got in touch with their counterparts in Rome and the four men were located in the North Adriatic Sea in less then 90 minutes.

All four crew members were taken to hospital in Rimini, on the eastern coast of Italy, and one crew member suffered from minor burns and smoke inhalation. The three remaining members were uninjured.

Speaking after the rescue, which took place as the men were delivering a yacht called Kratos to Italy, a Solent coastguard spokesman said the crew were experienced.

The spokesman also said that the rescue was a very good example of how the rescue system is meant to work.

"We got a good signal from the men on a GPS satellite phone saying they were 20 miles off the coast of Italy in the Adriatic and their liferaft was slowly sinking.

"The skipper was very calm and we had good communications so they were located within one and a half hours.


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