While sailing in the Caribbean, two commercial ships helped the Caribbean, and U.S. Coast Guards coordinated a search and rescue operation after receiving reports of a sinking tanker. Measuring in at 295 feet long and registered in Comoros, the tanker headed for Venezuela.
The Coast Guard started receiving distress calls from the 2,400 dwt product tanker Cetus, approximately 160 miles northwest of Curaçao in the southern Caribbean. The calls consisted of the crew indicating that they were fleeing the 40-year-old ship once they reported that it had started holding water.
The Caribbean Coast Guard responded to the distress calls by directing a patrol plane to search separately for the crew and tanker. The plane promptly spotted people in the ocean and was able to drop two inflatable life rafts. After dropping the rafts, the aircraft crew reported that the crew members were climbing aboard the rafts. The Coast Guard monitored the rescue by joining the efforts. The American helicopter, Thetis, worked alongside the plane and Caribbean Coast Guard. Two merchant ships in the area also responded to the requests of the Coast Guard for assistance.
By the time the assisting vessels reached where the two lifeboats were, they had drifted apart from one another. One ship, the Melba, a general cargo ship, located one of the rafts and took aboard nine of the survivors; the vessel then proceeded to Venezuela, where the crew was dropped on May 30. The second ship, bulk carrier UBC Stavanger, located the second inflatable raft and was able to rescue five crew members. The bulker transported the survivors to Trinidad.
One of the rafts also rescued the ship’s dog.
The details of the wreckage were released by the Coast Guard stationed in Willemstad, Curacao, on May 27. The details mentioned that the rescue saved fifteen lives, fourteen being the crew members, the fifteenth being the crew’s dog.
The May 27 report was sure to highlight that two crew members have gone missing and that it’s believed they went down with their ship.