UK Coastguard coordinated long range rescue after oil tanker sinks off Yemen coast

Monday, 26 June 2017

UK Coastguard have co-ordinated a long range rescue after an oil tanker sank 240 miles off the coast of Yemen.

At around 4.30am today (26 June) the Coastguard received reports of a Mayday distress call issued by the oil tanker, which is registered under a Panamanian flag, reporting that it was sinking.  The tanker, believed to have been carrying crude oil, is 99 meters long and had a crew of 14.  

The Yemen Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre (MRCC) were unable to assist, so the UK Coastguard stepped in to co-ordinate the rescue, issuing a Satellite Communication Mayday relay broadcast to all shipping in the area.

Multiple commercial vessels nearby responded to the original Mayday call and made their way to the tanker, which had sunk in gale force 8 winds and 5 metres swells. Commercial vessels recovered 12 of the 14 crew, who were wearing life jackets and immersion suits, from the water.

One crew member was recovered by a Royal Navy Rescue Helicopter and one remains unaccounted for.  There is evidence that the 3,000 tonnes of oil the tanker was carrying has gone down with the vessel.

Steve Carson, Commander for UK Coastguard said:  “This was a desperate situation for the fourteen crewmen, who were given no other option but to jump into the sea after the tanker sank in severe weather conditions.   Given the fact that Yemen does not have a Coastguard to assist with these types of incidents the UK Coastguard stepped in to lead the search and rescue mission.  It was incredibly lucky that commercial vessels were nearby and managed to make their way to the scene quite quickly and rescue 12 crew members.  Sadly, one crew member is unaccounted for and due to the weather conditions on scene and the oil spilled, the commercial vessels are unable to deploy their lifeboats. Our priority is to protect life at sea and we will always do everything possible to provide assistance for a mariner in need.  In the event we can't get there ourselves, we do our best to identify someone who can, which is exactly what we did in this case.”


The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) is a frontline emergency response agency of the Department for Transport. As well as delivering maritime search and rescue through HM Coastguard (one of the four UK emergency services), the MCA is responsible for maritime regulation, safety and counter-pollution.

For further information about this or any MCA news story, please contact the Maritime and Coastguard Agency Press Office on 020381 72222 or [email protected].

Last Updated ( Monday, 26 June 2017 )