The crew of the Liberian cargo ship Fedra, which smashed against Europa Point in heavy seas and ran aground last Friday evening, was rescued at dawn on Sunday following a dramatic all-night rescue operation, involving emergency services and four tugs from Gibraltar and Spain. The last members of the 31-crew were hoisted off the 24-year-old vessel by an improvised crane system just before it broke in two. A Spanish rescue helicopter that battled high winds and rough seas well into the previous night managed to lift off some five crew before its rotary system was affected by the sea spray, forcing it to make an urgent landing at the scene on the rock. The Gib construction company Euro Gruas was then called in and with a cage attached to a large crane managed to hoist up the bulk of the crew off the ship as first light broke on Sunday. Most of the shaken crew members were staying at the Caleta Hotel, although one was kept in St Bernard’s Hospital suffering from exhaustion. Salvage experts from the US company Titan Maritime assisted in the rescue operation. One of its vessels was standing by close to the wreck of the New Flame at the time and was first on the scene. The New Flame ran aground just metres away in August last year. The Fedra has a chequered history and was detained last August by port state control inspectors in China, who found a total of 18 deficiencies including three relating to its propulsion and auxiliary machinery. Previous inspections this year had also found numerous deficiencies. Due to last Friday’s very stormy weather, another Liberian cargo boat, the Tawe, ran aground off the Punta de San Garcia in Algeciras Bay. Both the Tawe and the Fedra are leaking fuel into the sea, although at the time of going to press heavy seas were making it impossible to gauge the extent of the damage.


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