Rescue at sea: Distress rockets but no boat found!


Here is the account of the last intervention made by the SNSM.

“In the evening of Saturday, November 4, just after 19:30 p.m., while some of the SNSM's volunteer teammates are preparing to have dinner, their phones ring. It is the CROSS AG; there is an emergency at sea; then we jump in our cars to reach the station as quickly as possible; and a few minutes later, we are on our way with the speedboat SNS 269 loaned by Saint-Barth our semi-rigid is still in “repair”.

A resident of Morne Vitet, in St-Barth, called the CROSS, after having seen, for approximately 30 seconds, distress hand lights at sea, of bright red color between 5 and 10 nautical miles North East of the ilet Toc Vert located northwest of Saint-Barthélemy, then a second bright red light signal, two minutes later, behind the Toc Vert islet at water level.

We therefore head for Toc Vert for 1 hour 20 minutes.

The Voyager ferry, already on its way to Gustavia, is diverted to get closer to Toc Vert and go see in the area.

A fishing boat (3 Hulls) also calls the CROSS to report that they are observing a red parachute rocket at sea and is proceeding on the estimated position of the rocket.

We are trying to reach them directly, by VHF and mobile phone, but communication is very difficult.

Voyager sees nothing alarming near St. Barth and continues on its way to Gustavia.

The Saint-Martin crew of SNS 269 arrives in the area, and the CROSS gives them a search area to cross over. Everything is calm ; there is a beautiful moon, good visibility, but no observation of a ship or a person in distress near the Toc Vert islet.

Finally, we manage to get in touch with the “3 Coques”, first by phone, then by an appointment on the open sea half an hour later.

The fishermen tell us that they saw a parachute rocket and an orange flash light, but they think it was more between Saint-Martin and Scrub Island, near Anguilla.

We relay this information to the CROSS, which gives us a new search area and asks us to draw a grid between Saint-Barth, Saint-Martin and Scrub Island, which is a much too large search area. Only a new “rocket launch” could help us locate any “disaster victims”; but we don't see anything.

We pull edges and search in vain. Finally, since there are no new elements and no ship is missing; the CROSS gives us freedom of maneuver, and the star SNS 269 therefore sets sail again for Marigot after hours and hours of fruitless research.

As we pass the St Martin landfill we perceive a burning smell… The Cul de Sac ecosite being located in the axis of the cape indicated by the fishermen, maybe a rocket was accidentally set on fire there. . "

We will not know! But the team members who return to the Fort Louis Marina after 1 am know that they have done their best to find the source of these distress calls (in total 4 hand flares + 1 parachute rocket would have been observed by 2 witnesses ). Without success ! "

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