HMCS Queen Charlotte sailors conduct rescue off coast of P.E.I.
By Ryan Melanson,
A focus on training in small boat operations has paid off in a big way for Naval Reserve members at HMCS Queen Charlotte, who were able to use their expertise to safely rescue 15 civilians from a capsized yacht just outside Charlottetown Harbour.
The incident occurred on the evening of May 9, which also happens to be the regular training night for Queen Charlotte, a Naval Reserve Division located in downtown Charlottetown. Sailors were already operating in the harbour, with two RHIBs and a Zodiac Hurricane 540 deployed, when they got word of trouble, said LCdr Rob Alain, the unit’s Commanding Officer.
“They noticed some people were sort of frantically waving at them from the sure, trying to get their attention.”
The group informed the boat Coxn that a civilian yacht was in distress about two kilometres from shore, and were able to point the sailors in the direction of the vessel. Charlottetown Fire Rescue had also been notified, but with Queen Charlotte’s assets already in the water, they were able to respond immediately, and one of their RHIBs was the first to reach the scene.
There, they found six people in the frigid water, along with another nine who were clinging to the capsized boat. The situation presented a real danger for the stranded boaters, and the boat Coxn decided to get everyone on board the RHIB as quickly as possible, rather than wait for more help to arrive.
“He made the decision to embark everyone who was in the water, and then they began to transit back from the stricken vessel to the shore,” LCdr Alain said. From there, Queen Charlotte’s other boats remained at the scene to assist Charlottetown Fire with the sinking boat, making an effort to contain any fuel spills.
Sailors made an effort to keep the rescued party as warm and comfortable as possible, lending their floater jackets and other gear. About 30 minutes after first being notified about the situation, the Queen Charlotte members were able to get the boaters back to land at the Peake’s Quay Marina, transferring them to the care of Island EMS. One person was treated for hypothermia, and no other injuries were reported.
Though the passengers of the capsized boat were shaken up, a few hugs were shared before parting ways, and the six Queen Charlotte sailors, along with one member from 5 CDSG Det Charlottetown, were thanked for their actions.
“It’s very fortunate that we happened to be operating last night,” said LCdr Alain, who debriefed the sailors following the event.
“Obviously they were quite filled with adrenaline at that time, but the common message that came out is they were glad that Queen Charlotte trains so hard with small boat operations. These members proved that we really are ready to help, that the training is excellent, and that the new focus on regenerative training in the Naval Reserve is exactly the right way to go.”
The sunken boat was towed to land the following day, and an investigation into the cause of the incident is ongoing.