On May 9, 2018, during their small boat training near Charlottetown Harbour, the Naval Reserve Division sailors from HMCS Queen Charlotte responded to a vessel in distress. Around 8:05 p.m., the sailors managed to save 15 people from a sinking boat.
“We’re very proud, the sailors are also very proud of themselves, as well they should be. Certainly, it really brought to light how important it is to focus on small boat skills because when it was needed, they were just able to completely rely on their training to get the job done,” Lieutenant-Commander Rob Alain, Commanding Officer, HMCS Queen Charlotte.
The sailors were training in a Ridged Hull Inflatable Boat (RHIB) and immediately sought out the location of the sinking boat. The boat patrons had been in the water for approximately 20 minutes, six people in the water and nine others clinging to the rapidly sinking vessel. The RHIB coxn, unsure of when another vessel might come along, immediately began pulling the people onto his boat.
Once the 15 people were aboard the RHIB, they immediately transported them back to the wharf where they were met by EMS and other HMCS Queen Charlotte personnel. No one was seriously injured in the ordeal, but one person was sent to the hospital after suffering from mild hypothermia.
“The rest of them were obviously extremely cold. In the transit back, HMCS personnel gave up their floater jackets and had other blankets and warming devices on board that they used to try and bring up the body temperature of those who had been in the water,” LCdr Alain added.
The sailors of HMCS Queen Charlotte were able to put their learned skills and training to work in a real-life situation, executing a successful rescue.
“It’s exactly what we would expect them to do. At Queen Charlotte, we really do focus a tremendous amount of effort on small boat proficiency and our sailors are very well trained. They’re very confident on the water and they did exactly what we would expect them to do,” said LCdr Alain.
The Naval Reserve trains sailors for Canadian Armed Forces operations ashore, at sea or abroad.
From left, LS Daniel Scott, AB Brandon Lundrigan, OS Bektas Erdogan, LS Elizabeth Riviere, AB Daniel Bridges, and AB Paul MacDonald, who were all involved in a rescue outside of Charlottetown Harbour on May 9. Absent from the photo is Corporal Olivier Faucher, a Vehicle Tech with 5 CDSG Det Charlottetown.
Photo: HMCS Queen Charlotte