In Gale Force winds with gusts up to 50 miles an hour, the seven crew of the cargo ship Fluvius Tamar, 2,967gt, were rescued in an operation involving helicopters, a lifeboat and several merchant ships when their ship sank some 35 miles north-east of Ramsgate shortly before midnight on Friday, Jan 13.
Throughout that Friday, people on the east coast of England had been warned of the storm with severe flood warnings in several areas of the coast bordering the North Sea.
The Fluvius Tamar, of the Exe Shipping Co, of Stockleigh English, near Clediton, Devon, had sailed from the Netherlands for Spain with a cargo of 3,800 tonnes of magnesium oxide and was near the Kent coast when she got into difficulties in the atrocious weather.
The ship sent out a Mayday signal and the Coastguard immediately launched a rescue operation. Ian Guy, of the Coastguard, said: “The emergency call came shortly before midnight. They were taking on water rapidly and planning to abandon the ship.
“When they made the call, I understand the vessel was already going under and by the time they finished the call, they didn’t make it to the liferafts. The vessel was under the water and they were themselves in the water.”
The Coastguard search and rescue helicopters from Lydd and Lee-on-Solent were scrambled along with the Ramsgate RNLI lifeboat and a Dutch search and rescue helicopter.
Several nearby merchant ships also responded and among them was the rollon, roll-off freight ferry Norstream which arrived before the emergency services and was able to deploy liferafts. The Norstream, 20,296gt, of Bore Ltd, of Helsink, and operates on the P&O Ferries Tilbury-Zeebrugge service.