Incat Built Craft Hits News Headlines In English Channel Rescue Drama

An English Channel ferry currently in the news for rescuing five people after their yacht was sliced in two by a 600-foot freighter was built in Hobart by Incat in 1996.

The Condor Express has picked up three women and two men from an inflatable liferaft during her sailing Condor Ferries sailing from Poole to Guernsey.

They had been floating for six hours after their 47-foot yacht, Wahkuna, sank while returning to the UK from France.

The BBC reports that Condor Express has brought the survivors to Guernsey for a check-up at the Princess Elizabeth Hospital before they were taken back to Poole.

Poor visibility

The liferaft was spotted about 25 miles south east of the English coast after the yacht’s crew fired a red flare into the air.

Master of the Condor Express Captain Adrian Whinney, launched the craft’s rescue boat and called the coastguard and French authorities.

Speaking to the BBC Condor Ferries General Manager Jan Milner said the yacht was crossing the shipping lanes when it was struck by the container ship.

“They saw the ship on their radar, as visibility was very poor, and moved to avoid it, but they think it might have changed course.”

Launched inquiry

“It loomed out of the fog, they took avoiding action, but it took 10 feet off their bow and they sank.” Mr Milner said.

The UK’s Maritime Accident Investigation Board has launched an inquiry into how the accident happened and why the ship, believed to be Liberian registered, failed to stop.

The yacht’s skipper said they only spotted the freighter 15 seconds before being hit because of the thick fog.

Incat Chairman Robert Clifford commented “This is by no means the first occasion one of our vessels has responded to an emergency call”

“The high speed of Incat ships quite often means that if they are in the vicinity they are the first to arrive on the scene of a casualty.”

In 2001 the Incat-built Stena Line fast craft Stena Lynx III diverted to assist a sinking yacht on the southern Irish Sea. The craft was seven miles away from the scene when alerted to the incident and arrived alongside the casualty just seven minutes later.

Last year, when on her delivery voyage to Guadeloupe in the French West Indies, the K-class catamaran Incat K3 went to the aid of five Venezuelan fishermen who had been caught out at sea.

Perhaps the most dramatic rescue involving an Incat craft was in 1995 when the SeaCat Isle of Man, on charter to Condor Ferries, went to the aid of the crippled passenger craft Saint-Malo, aground on the island of Guernsey. All 307 passengers and crew were saved from the partially submerged vessel. Captain Peter Falla, of the SeaCat Isle of Man, was singled out for his ‘remarkable feat of seamanship’ in having diverted his vessel to shelter the stricken ferry.