Transcript

 

Wild Gale Periled Dramatic Rescue

By George Foster

 

The angry Pacific Ocean was breaking over one side of the tanker Anco Templar while her crew was bringing survivors of the burning South Korean fishing boat on board over the other side.

Thirty minutes later the Force Nine (strong gale) winds had increased to Force 12, hurricane velocity.

“Had we waited, we would not have been able to get them on board,” said Keith Richmond, the 45-year-old captain of the British tanker as the ship lay at anchor in Elliott Bay yesterday, two days after the daring rescue 300 miles off the Oregon Coast.

“It was very critical,” added the Templar’s chief officer, John Bolton, 37, of Bangor, Northern Ireland. “We had about 10 feet of freeboard.” The tanker contained a dangerous cargo of petro-chemicals and lubricating oil bound from Portland to Japan.

 

The 556-foot Templar left Puget Sound waters yesterday afternoon, having dropped off 32 survivors of the 170-foot long-liner Kwang Myung No.96 in Seattle Saturday night.

Two Koreans perished aboard the fishing boat. 

 

Two other survivors, Kim Ho Jong, 32, and Pak Jong, who received extensive burns after an explosion on the fishing boat, remained in serious condition last night at Harborview Medical Centre’s burn clinic here. The two were flown in by helicopter Saturday night from Port Angeles, where the tanker stopped briefly.

 

The rest of the crew, including Capt. You Duk Heny, were staying at the Mayflower Hotel last night. Contributions of clothing had come in during the day from Korean communities in Seattle and Tacoma.

 

 A U.S. Coast Guard aircraft radioed the Templar, an Athel Lines ship, about 3.05 a.m. (Seattle time) Friday, directing the tanker to go to the aid of the fishing boat some 28 miles away. The tanker reached the Kwang Myung two hours later as dawn was breaking, Richmond said.

 

The Korean boat was en route to Japan when an explosion touched off the fire several hours earlier.

“The crew was still on the deck as we approached,” said the skipper of the Templar.

Smoke was pouring from the engine room area and aft section. The paint had already blistered off the steel hull.

First Officer Rene Rostant, a lean young man from Poynings, England, said: “We stayed well away, because of our cargo … about 400 yards, or we would have gone up with it.”

 

The Kwang Myung sent two life rafts containing about 15 crewmen each away from the burning boat.

The Templar then fired a rocket line out to the life rafts. The first went off target. The second fell across one of the rafts.

“From then on it was all done by hand,” said Rostant.

 

Both crews pulled together to bring the life rafts across the 400 or so yards of turbulent sea to the safety of the Templar. The tanker then lowered its nets and the South Koreans climbed aboard. Capt. You Duk Heny, the last to leave, arrived in a third raft.

Chief Officer John Bolton headed the rescue operation while Richmond manoeuvred the ship through the storm. Bolton said he tried to talk to the survivors from the deck. “But all they could say was “Anco, Anco, Anco … they had seen the name of the ship on the stern …” He added: “The sea was coming over on one side while we were bringing them aboard on the other side.”

Rostant and Boatswain’s mate William Henry then climbed down to reach the two injured crewmen.

Richmond recalled: “They climbed down to the raft together and secured the injured men in stretchers and pulled them into the ship by rope … a very dangerous thing to do.”

One fortunate addition to the ship’s crew this voyage was Susara Nicholson, 45, wife of able-bodied seaman Alan Nicholson. Mrs. Nicholson is a nurse from Windermere, England.

 

She cared for Kim Ho Jong and Pak Jong for some 48 hours without sleep until the ship reached Port Angeles.

She was assisted by the ship’s chief steward.

 

A half hour after the last of the survivors was brought aboard, the strong gale-force winds increased to hurricane velocity, according to the skipper.

The tanker was taking on water.

Alan Nicholson was at portside helping the South Koreans aboard. There was one man that he will remember.

“I felt a bit embarrassed when the bloke came up and kissed me,” he said.

For Richmond, a native of Merseyside, England, it was a once-in-a-lifetime saga. “But one that I would like to happen again.” He added: “You do the best you can do. Something takes over you …”

 

Said Nicholson, standing beside the captain in the ward room: “They (Koreans) were seafarers. We all are. Them lads … we’ve got to help them because we may be in the same boat some day.”

Added Rostant: “The Koreans have done this before for the English.”

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Seattle Post – Intelligencer.  Mon., Nov.17, 1975

Rescue an Inspiration –- Doctor

By Sue Lockett    P-I Staff

 

Port Angeles – Dr. J. J. Fairshter, the back-up maritime physician here, was alerted late Saturday afternoon by Olympic Memorial Hospital that a ship was on the way with injured seamen aboard.

The British tanker Anco Templar was a “formidable sight coming into port … big and orange against not-too-stormy seas,” Dr. Fairshter recalled yesterday.

“And when we went out in the harbour to board her, she looked even bigger. I learned later she’s about 550 feet long,” he said.

Scrambling up the “Jacob’s ladder,” Dr. Fairshter boarded the ship and found Kim Ho Jong and Pak Jong “severely burned about the head, neck, face, forearms, hands and feet.”

He decided they should be transferred immediately by air to Harborview Medical Center burn clinic in Seattle.

“Fortunately for the injured seamen,” Dr.Fairshter said, “the wife of one of the tanker crewmen was on board. Susara Nicholson, a nurse, was trained in South Africa, and she did an excellent job of taking care of them with what was available – which was almost nothing.”

The doctor stayed with the injured Korean crewmen in a series of transfers from tanker to tug to ambulance to Coast Guard helicopter and back to ambulance to Harborview.

He was in radio communication with Harborview, so as soon as the crewmen arrived at the hospital they were whisked to the clinic for immediate treatment.

Harborview reported they remained in serious condition yesterday.

To Dr. Fairshter the maritime mission was all in a day’s work, but he added he was personally inspired by the selflessness of the Anco Templar crew.

“Sometimes I begin to wonder about man’s concern for his fellow man. But this episode reminded me that it really exists. The tanker crew went all-out for these people – they went four days off course and off schedule and spared nothing for their comfort – with nary a question asked,” Dr. Fairshter said.

 

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