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Freebird

13/9/2001 Belgian fishing vessel Freebird on fire in the Irish Sea.
Photograph by 22 Sqn RAF Valley

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Thanks Gulpers.

I already had this piccy as it was given to me as a sort of memento of my first "Real Job" but I wasn't sure about up loading it cos I wasn't the one who had taken it.

Regards.

Coastie
 

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what a horrifying picture!shows the fragility of the fishermans existance.God bless them all!!!.
 

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About 12 miles south of the Calf of Man. As I said, my first "real" job
 

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As a trainee Coastguard officer in those days and working part time, I came on watch just before ten and the job had only just started. There had been a phone call from Falmouth Coastguard reporting an emergency beacon had been activated in our area. We put out calls for the vessel, but there was no reply. Eventually, Ostend Radio called us and told me that they had a mobile phone number for the Skipper. The number was passed to me and it was tried. Again, we couldn't get through. In the end, I thought, I wonder if mobile phone numbers are like local STD codes where, if you are phoning from outside the country you drop the first 0 of the STD code. So I tried, first the Belgian international code, then the mobile number without the first 0. It rang and a calm voice said "Hello".
"Hello, I said, is that the Freebird?"
"Ya, this is the Freebird" I yelled to my colleagues that I had got comms with the casualty then asked the Skipper if everything was alright aboard only to find out that she was on fire and that they couldn't respond to our VHF calls as the wheelhouse was full of smoke and that they were all standing on deck. One of my other, far more experienced colleagues then took over the conversation and we got their position and RAF rescue helicopter R122 was scrambled along with the RNLI Port St Mary all weather lifeboat.
Contact was maintained via the mobile phone and flames were just starting to burn through the wheelhouse when the Skipper informed us that they were going to jump over the side as things were getting worse. It was at that point that we heard the familiar noise of R122 in the background and they were on scene. Because of the state of things aboard the casualty the crew were told to go into a liferaft and soon after they were winched from the liferaft to the helicopter and taken to safety.
 

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A little feather in your cap first up Coastie. Well done!!
 

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Thanks John. I hope I haven't come across like the "big hero", cos I wasn't trying to.
 

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Thanks Frank.
 

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Maritime Casualties & Breaking Yards
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Gulpers
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