In a dramatic incident yesterday afternoon 3 military officers and one Ghanaian national were yesterday rescued at sea after the naval cutter (boat) in which they were traveling on a routine security trip capsized off Sulima leaving only the Officer Commanding still missing.
The military officers belonged to the forward operational base at Sulima from where they usually conduct routine security checks around the area. However according to the survivors their boat got grounded on an unseen sandbank along the point where the Moa River intersects with the Atlantic Ocean.
Military Police, Sgt Bangura reported, “the boat departed on 1st July at 1800hrs, around 09:50hrs today (yesterday) we received information that the boat have capsized.”
Upon getting the distress call, Chief of Defense Staff (CDS), Maj. Gen. Nelson Williams immediately went into action and put together a team of officers and he personally led the search and rescue team to Sulima. CDS Nelson Williams told Awoko that he (CDS) was instructed by the Minister of Defense Rtd. Maj. Palo Conteh to mobilize all available resources to rescue the soldiers immediately upon receiving the distress call.
In less than an hour the UT Air was contracted and a helicopter was made available. Also a military PB 105 boat was dispatched to also join the search and rescue operation along the Bonthe and Cape Mount axis to look for possible survivors.
The boat was eventually spotted in deep sea by the helicopter, which hovered around until they were waved down by residents. Fortunately however Ghanaian fishermen in the settlement had rescued the distressed soldiers. The only exception was the Commanding Officer who was still missing, though his life jacket had been found.
Military Police Sgt. Bangura disclosed that the surviving officers are: “18173202 Cpl. Inga P; 18175984 Ls. Cpl. Bangura B (the coxswain); 18178388 Ls. Cpl. Mansaray M (General Duty); the Ghanaian national Alhaji (Assistant Captain), and the Officer Commanding (name withheld).
The CDS thanked the community stating that “we are happy with the support and concern showed. It shows that there is a cordial relationship between the community and the military,” he said.
The four rescued military sailors were airlifted to Freetown and taken straight to the 34 military hospital for medical observation.
CDS Nelson Williams said “The rescue mission is an exemplary display of leadership and it is a clear demonstration of our concern for our personnel.”