A search that began on Wednesday for a tug and barge caught in a cyclone off the coast of Oman has been stood down after both vessels were located and 23 people rescued.
Falmouth Coastguard was informed of the incident at 14.06 on Wednesday when the UKMTO, United Kingdom Maritime Trade Organisation, contacted it to say that they had been in contact with the owners in Mumbai, who in turn had been contacted by the tug Roma reporting that they had been towing the crane handling barge Kanta and had got into difficulty three hours before and been unable to contact the authorities in India to request assistance.
After liaising with other Search and Rescue authorities in the area, Falmouth Coastguard took on the coordination of the search themselves, and a request for positions of vessels in the area yielded a tanker, the Al-Amerat, that was willing to proceed to their rescue. With winds of up to 170 knots forecast, Falmouth Coastguard was “extremely concerned” for the two vessels, especially after a distress beacon signal was received from the tug Roma.
Falmouth Coastguard continued conducting satellite broadcasts to the area and tasked and co-ordinated four merchant vessels to search for the tug, which had fourteen people onboard, and the barge, with nine onboard. After twenty one hours the tug Roma was located disabled and drifting by the Al-Amerat with all crew accounted for and the barge was finally found drifting after nearly thirty hours by the Perseus Leader with the crew safe but low on food and water.
Falmouth Coastguard Watch Manager Marc Thomas says: “This incident highlights the importance of satellite communications and relations with other international SAR operations in long range Search and Rescue. This was an incredibly dangerous mission for all vessels involved due to a severe tropical cyclone with winds of force 9-10 and seas of 8 to 10 metres in height. We are very grateful to the captains and crews of all the vessels that were involved in this very difficult and drawn out rescue”.