Mid Atlantic Rescue

On the 13th. October 1947 the four-engined Boeing charter plane with 69 people on board left Foynes in Ireland on a flight to Gander Lake in Newfoundland. This was to be the last flying-boat to leave Ireland after a decade of aviation history. The mainly inexperienced crew of seven were carrying 20 men, 30 women and 12 children including two babies-in-arms. Almost double the passenger load ever carried by a flying boat. Over-loaded, battling with head winds and insufficient fuel the Captain decided to set down on the ocean close to the weather-ship 'Charlie'. His S.O.S. message was picked up by other aircraft and shipping. Most important of all, by Captain Paul Cronk of the US Coastguard cutter 'George M. Bibb'. When he was told that there were 69 persons on board he could not believe it. The ensuing operation lasted for 48 hours with not a single life lost.

Sea Queen

The overcrowding of the Bermuda Sky Queen was partly attributable that shipping passages between Europe and the United States were totally booked out with the great rush of emigrants and GI brides. What few airline seats were available were booked out for months because the Skymaster aircraft, which had then begun to trickle through Shannon carried only 40 passengers. Afterwards the charter company was closed down. Captain Cronk and his crew were decorated for their work and the passengers were given a heroes welcome when they arrived in Boston on the 'George M .Bibb'

Flying Boat Rescue

Before leaving the scene, the cutter shelled the flying-boat so it would not be a danger to navigation.

Reference; Irish Times 28th.Octr 2003.

At approximately 18:36 on the 14th. a motor self-bailing surfboat was launched by the Coastguard vessel. At this time the wind had increased to 39 knots, the seas had become very rough and darkness was approaching. During the following five hours or so, the boat made four trips to the Bermuda Sky Queen rescuing four survivors. On the fourth and last trip the boat became completely awash, irreparably damaged, and some survivors were washed overboard but were rescued by members of the boats crew and by BMI Ralph Keller, US Coast Guard, a member of a lifeboat unloading detail. Keller saw a woman washed overboard from the boat into the sea between the boat and the Bibb. U.S. Coastguard Cutter BIBBHe dropped into the water, braced his hands and feet against the side of the Bibb and back against the boat, thus preventing the survivor being crushed between the boat and the Bibb. The survivor was passed back into the boat by Keller and was subsequently brought safely aboard the Bibb. After completion of the fourth trip, the boat and raft were abandoned because of damaged condition.

On the morning of the 15th. under less adverse conditions, the remaining 25 survivors were safely transferred to the Bibb.

Medals were awarded to several members of the rescue vessels.

0 Comments · 22129 Reads · Print  -> Posted by Tony on April 29 2007


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