Navy rescues crew of sinking cruiser

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The Independent US

A Royal Navy destroyer rescued the crew of a motor cruiser that sank in the Caribbean yesterday.

A Royal Navy destroyer rescued the crew of a motor cruiser that sank in the Caribbean yesterday.

The 11 crew members, including six Britons, sent out a mayday message when water started flooding the engine-room of the £13m Shiralee. Within half an hour the sea, which was calm, was lapping at the main deck and the crew abandoned ship.

As the 148-ft Shiralee sank, HMS Manchester arrived in the area. The destroyer, on anti-drug operations, was 35 miles from Puerto Rico's capital, San Juan, when it responded to the Shiralee's call. The destroyer's helicopter guided it to the crew and an hour later the Manchester picked them up from their rafts. They were taken to San Juan in a US Coast Guard cutter.

Commander Bob Brown, captain of the Manchester, a Type 42 destroyer, said: "All of the crew of the Shiralee were recovered and brought on board for medical checks and food. There were no injuries and they all seemed very grateful to have been rescued so quickly."

The seven men and four women also included two Irish crew members, a Bermudan, a South African and an Australian. They were believed to have been en route to Havana to pick up a dozen passengers for a cruise to St Thomas. The boat was said to have been booked up for months by people willing to pay up to £100,000 to charter it for a week.

It is not known what caused the Cayman Islands-flagged cruiser, which was less than two years old, to sink.

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