Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Video: Norwegian Gem Rescues Five

Five Canadians probably owe their lives to the captain and crew of Norwegian Gem. They seem to be alive today because the Norwegian ship came to their rescue Saturday in the North Atlantic and was willing to delay its return to New York by a half an hour.

Saturday morning (Oct 29, 2011) Norwegian Gem responded to a call from the US Coast Guard about a 39-foot sailboat (Sanctuary) which was in distress two hours away from their position.

Norwegian Gem was returning to New York from Bermuda, and the sailboat was located about 350 miles from New York. The sailboat had four men and one woman aboard. It had large waves breaking over its bow, had lost power and its life raft, and was taking on water.

Norwegian Gem's captain, Hankan Svedung, immediately changed course to intercept the sailboat.

Once on the scene, Svedung said they encountered extreme weather conditions with winds up to 40 knots and large swells, which made it challenging to launch Norwegian Gem's rescue boat. Once they did get it in the water, it made contact with the rescue boat and quickly transferred the five people to the cruise ship. Those extreme conditions can be seen in the video when the rescue boat is under way from Norwegian Gem to Sanctuary.

About four hours after receiving the initial call, Norwegian Gem once again set its course for New York, and it arrived only about 30 minutes late on Sunday morning. The five Sanctuary passengers disembarked there along with Norwegian Gem's other passengers.

"This rescue operation was conducted under extremely difficult circumstances," said Captain Svedung. "I am proud of our crew who braved their lives to rescue the five people in distress."

The Coast Guard-provided video above was shot from a USCG Hercules C-130 aircraft which was launched from Air Station Elizabeth City to coordinate the rescue from the air.

The video below was shot by a passenger from aboard Norwegian Gem during the rescue: