Distressed Royal Air Force rowing team saved; brought to shore by passing AMVER ship

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BEAUMONT, Texas — Four members of the British Royal Air Force were rescued by the crew of the bulk carrier Hedvig Bulker and were brought back to dry land, Monday, after a treacherous 51 day, trans-Atlantic attempt from Spain to Antigua in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge.

Rescued were the Atlantic Forces rowing team: Jane McIntosh, Warren Burns, Howard Raw and Elizabeth Beauchamp.

Four rescued Royal Air Force members join with the captain and crew of the bulk carrier Hedvig Bulker after arriving in the Port of Beaumont, Texas, Feb. 3, 2014.  The U.S. Coast Guard contacted the AMVER participating ship after the Atlantic Forces trans-Atlantic rowing team requested help in rough seas with a broken rudder. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Andrew Kendrick.

Four rescued Royal Air Force members join with the captain and crew of the bulk carrier Hedvig Bulker after arriving in the Port of Beaumont, Texas, Feb. 3, 2014. lantic Forces trans-Atlantic rowing team requested help in rough seas with a broken rudder. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Andrew Kendrick.

The team had a broken rudder on day 46 and after exhausting all efforts to fix it in heavy seas, running low on food and water, and near to losing all electronics, they used the little electricity they had left to call for help on their satellite phone.

Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre Falmouth, England, contacted the U.S. Coast Guard’s Atlantic Area Rescue Coordination Center requesting assistance Jan. 23, stating they were disabled after their rudder broke 1,560 miles northeast of San Juan, Puerto Rico.

The Coast Guard watchstanders in Puerto Rico used the Automated Mutual-Assistance Vessel Rescue System to contact the nearest Amver participating ship. The Hedvig Bulker responded to the Coast Guard’s request approximately 69 miles from the row boat’s position and diverted to assist.

Once on scene the master of the 574-foot ship reported, “harsh sea conditions are preventing us from getting alongside the row boat.” After nine attempts in about five hours, they were able to use a cargo net to hoist each of the four crewmembers up the side of the ship from the heavy seas.

The team was participating in a 2,982 mile Atlantic Campaign called the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, the row boat race from San Sebastian de La Gomera, Spain, to Antigua.

Check out the team’s Facebook page for a timeline of events leading up to their final day in the water: https://www.facebook.com/AtlanticForces.

For more pictures, click on the above photo.

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