HMAS Albany assists stricken yacht

Published on LEUT Andrew Ragless (author), CPOMT Duncan Thomas (photographer)

Topic(s): HMAS Albany (P86), Search and Rescue (SAR)

HMAS Albany rendezvous with Police Patrol Vessel Beagle Gulf to hand over the disabled sailing vessel Su Ying for further towing to Darwin. (photo: CPOMT Duncan Thomas)
HMAS Albany rendezvous with Police Patrol Vessel Beagle Gulf to hand over the disabled sailing vessel Su Ying for further towing to Darwin.

Three Australian occupants of a disabled sailing vessel, 105 nautical miles north west of Darwin are back on terra firma this week thanks to assistance by Armidale Class Patrol Boat HMAS Albany.

Albany detected a distress beacon from the sailing vessel Su Ying on Monday and arrived at the vessel’s location in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

On inspection, Navy’s onboard marine technicians were able to determine the yacht’s engines had seized and were irreparable at sea.

LCDR Paul Ukhoff, Commanding Officer of Assail Four embarked in Albany said the next best thing was to take the yacht under tow and ‘close the gap’ between the yacht’s location and the civil authorities who were responding to the emergency from Darwin.

“We towed the vessel approximately 60 nautical miles before handing over to Police Patrol Boat Beagle Gulf approximately 45 nautical miles west of Darwin,” LCDR Ukhoff said.

The Sunshine Coast owner of SV Su Ying, Mr Ken Grohs said spotting the Navy patrol boat at night was a big relief.

“I could see navigational lights off in the distance but I assumed it was a merchant vessel,” Mr Grohs said.

“Then I launched a flare and I could see it was a Navy patrol boat, they came straight over.”

Seaman Boatswains Mate Nick Peters stayed onboard the sailing vessel for the duration of the tow in order to maintain communications with Albany and provide guidance to the skipper.

“Our chefs even delivered a hot breaky of bacon and egg rolls which I’m sure were very much appreciated,” SMNBM Peters said.

Mr Grohs said they had been at sea for more than a month and hadn’t eaten bacon for a while.

“The Navy crew were very professional,” Mr Grohs said.

“They were very switched on and very well commanded, we couldn’t ask for more!

Imagery is available on the Royal Australian Navy Media Library at http://images.navy.gov.au/S20131618.