FEATURES

04 December 2018

Saved by a SILVER ANGEL

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Saved by a SILVER ANGEL

“As long as we are out at sea, be it on or off duty, we will not hesitate to respond to any calls for help,” said Police Coast Guard’s (PCG) Staff Sergeant (SSgt) Tan Yoong Yiaw. SSgt Tan was part of a team of three PCG officers who came to the rescue of two anglers who had encountered electrical problems on their fishing boat and were in danger of drifting out into a busy sea channel amidst an incoming storm.

PCG

In a Matter of Minutes

At about 8am on 9 September 2018, two anglers were drift fishing near Changi when the sunny sky started to turn dark. Fearing of being caught in a storm out at sea, they decided to head back to shore. But luck was not on their side. The battery of their boat’s motor had died on them. Meanwhile, the sky was getting darker and the sea was also starting to get choppy. Realising that they were drifting further and further out to sea, they tried to lower their anchor but it failed. Thankfully, one of the anglers came prepared with a list of numbers to call for help and he immediately called the PCG for assistance.

The crew on board the PCG patrol boat Silver Angel were about to end their night shift near the coast of Changi when they received the anglers’ distress call from the Police Coast Guard (PCG) Command Centre. Seeing that the weather had taken a turn for the worse just within minutes from receiving the call, the crew immediately changed their course towards the anglers’ location while keeping in contact with the anglers through one of their mobile phones.

“When we first heard that their boat was in the middle of the fairway, we were very concerned as there were many huge vessels such as cargo ships and ferries moving through. Since his boat’s manoeuvrability was restricted, there could be a risk of a collision,” said SSgt Tan.

Given the dangers involved, they knew that they had to reach them as fast as possible as the weather was worsening rapidly. True enough, a massive downpour ensued and reduced their visibility to a mere two to three metres, making it even more difficult for the crew to locate the anglers. Despite the challenging conditions, they were determined to locate them. Eventually, the crew managed to zero in on the anglers’ location by turning on their boat’s blinkers as markers and guiding the anglers to direct Silver Angel to them.

The Rescue

When the PCG officers finally reached the anglers’ boat, they had already been adrift for some time. The first thing on their minds was to assure the anglers that they would stay by their side and keep them safe. They also made it a point to constantly update the anglers on their next course of action while periodically sounding Silver Angel’s horns to divert smaller vessels away from the anglers’ boat. At the same time, the officers kept a close watch on their radar for oncoming vessels. The crew shared that such assurance was crucial to help the anglers remain calm so that they could follow their instructions accordingly to avoid any further mishaps. As the downpour continued and the sea became choppier, the crew realised that the current was pushing the boat further and further out towards a breakwater, and hitting it could be disastrous.

“It was a dangerous situation. Time was of the essence and instinctively, we knew we had to act fast to get the boat out of harm’s way,” SSgt Tan described the situation that they faced.

Despite the heavy downpour, the team did not have time to don their rain gear as they had to quickly assess the boat and find a way to tie it to their vessel to prevent it from drifting further towards the breakwater. As their patrol boat was not equipped for towing and the bollard of the anglers’ boat could not be located, they had to think on their feet to improvise their methods.

“We have to improvise on the spot to see which is the best place to tie the boat as not all boats are the same,” shared Special Constable Sergeant Mohamed Faris Mohamed, one of the PCG officers on board Silver Angel.

Drenched to the skin, the crew eventually managed to tie the ropes near the starboard side as they had assessed it to be the strongest point of the anglers’ boat. They then carefully manoeuvred their vessel beside it. Wasting no time, the crew started their engine and began to side-tow the anglers’ boat slowly away from the breakwater. As the crew kept the anglers’ boat from drifting towards the breakwater, a tugboat from the Marine Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) had also arrived at the scene to render their assistance. The crew eventually handed over the anglers’ boat to the MPA who then secured it to the MPA’s tugboat.

Silver Angel Background

Good News

With the mission completed, the crew of the Silver Angel returned to their base. Even though they have ended their shift, they wanted to make sure that the anglers were fine. After making a call, they learnt that the anglers’ boat was towed to a Singapore-registered ferry where its captain had graciously helped them to charge their batteries and even treated them to lunch. After hearing the good news, the PCG officers felt relieved and finally retired home for a well-deserved rest.

Well done guys!


Last Updated on 04 December 2018