Indian Coast Guard rescues 15 Syrian Crew from Sinking Cargo Ship

The Indian Coast Guard is hailing its efforts in what it calls a “prompt and swift Search and Rescue (SAR) Mission” rescuing the lives of 15 Syrian seafarers after they abandon their sinking cargo ship. They were all successfully rescued from lifeboats and lift rafts despite what the Coast Guard termed challenging conditions and rough climate.

The Indian Coast Guard reported

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The circumstances leading up to the rescue are confused with some information suggesting the vessel, a 32-year-old general cargo ship sailing under the flag of Belize suffered a mechanical failure while other information suggested it possibly was intentionally grounded. The Indian Coast Guard reported receiving a distress call on June 21 with the crew informing them that they were readying to abandon the vessel named Princess Miral.

The 7,000 dwt general cargo ship had loaded a cargo of 8,000 tonnes of steel coil in China in May. It had stopped at the Port Klang anchorage at the start of June and earlier this week was located off the coast of India.

It anchored north of New Mangalore, India on June 18 but later appears to have repositioned to the south of the port city. The vessel had been sailing to the Suez Canal where it was scheduled to transit at the beginning of July on its way to Lebanon. 

After grounding the vessel reported hull breaches which were causing ingress of water into the holds. Pictures released by the Indian Coast Guard however show the vessel sinking by the stern.

Commander S B Venkatesh of the Indian Coast Guard said reported “In my 30 plus years in service, this was the darndest mission undertaken in rescuing mariners. The successful operation reaffirms the Coast Guard’s capabilities.”

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Two Indian Coast Guard vessels,the Vikram and Amartya were dispatched in answer to the distress call. The crew was rescued from the boats and transferred to shore where they are now being interviewed to determine more of the circumstances leading up to the emergency. It is unclear if the vessel remains afloat on a reef or if it went down after the rescue.

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