Edward & Maisie Lewis Award 2007
EDWARD AND MAISIE LEWIS award presented to ‘Rescue 193’ and ‘194’ from 771 Naval Air Squadron, Culdrose, for the recovery of 26 crewmen from the liferaft of the msc Napoli on 18 Jan 2007.
‘Rescue 193’ and ‘194’ from 771 Naval Air Squadron, Culdrose, for the recovery of 26 crewmen from the liferaft of the msc Napoli. At 1105 on 18 January 2007 ‘Rescue 193’ from 771 Naval Air Squadron at Culdrose was scrambled to assist with the rescue of the crew of the container ship Napoli.
The crew consisted of Lt Cdr Martin Rhodes RN (Aircraft Commander), Lt Michael Scott RN (First Pilot), Lt Olivia Milles RN (Second Pilot) and POACMN David Rigg (Winchman). The Napoli was drifting 40 nautical miles south south-east of the Lizard, her engines having failed after taking in water. It was believed that the crew had already abandoned ship. Realising that the circumstances would require a second helicopter the Aircraft Commander requested that ‘Rescue 194’ be launched with a SAR diver and this was done at 1135. The crew comprised Lt Guy Norris RN (Aircraft Commander), Lt Kevin Drodge RN (First Pilot), Capt Damien May RM (Second Pilot), POACMN James O’Donnell QGM (Diver) and LACMN Justin Radford (Winch Operator).
Arriving on scene in reduced visibility and low cloud with mountainous seas and winds in excess of 50 kts, ‘Rescue 193’ located the stricken vessel and the small lifeboat. In order to co-ordinate the rescue from the lifeboat it was decided that ‘Rescue 194’ should lower POACMN O’Donnell, the Diver, onto it. In squally winds and with an erratic 40 foot variation in wave height, the First Pilot and the Winch Operator placed the diver 10 feet astern of the craft, from where he swam to it, disconnected himself from the winch and then with considerable strength and determination hauled himself onboard with the lifeboat plunging into successive troughs as he did so. A hi-line was lowered to the diver and over the next fifty minutes 13 men were recovered by ‘Rescue 194’. Running low on fuel she departed the scene and ‘Rescue 193’ closed to recover the remaining 13 men. This was going steadily until a wave caused the liferaft to spin wildly tangling the hi-line and the winch wire in obstructions on the vessel’s roof. The Winch Operator, immediately recognising the danger, conned the Pilot through a tight square thereby clearing the snagging hazard – the lifeboat with fewer people in it was becoming more unstable and unpredictable. The remaining crewmen were then safely recovered and brought back to Culdrose.