Crew from HMS Argyll spent eight hours saving every soul aboard the Grande America in the Bay of Biscay, say the Royal Navy.
The frigate responded to a mayday during the night from the 28,000-tonne merchant ship about 150 miles southwest of Brest, according to a release.
“All 27 crew members crammed aboard the lifeboat which smashed into the heavy seas as it launched, damaging the craft which was unable to make headway.
Despite very difficult sea conditions, Argyll succeeded in launching her sea boat which nudged the lifeboat against the frigate’s side so the Grande America’s crew could be brought aboard.”
Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said:
“HMS Argyll’s swift and selfless response to very dangerous situation in difficult conditions undoubtedly saved 27 lives. I commend her crew. This rescue demonstrates that even on the final leg of a challenging nine month deployment to the Far East, the Royal Navy’s sailors remain vigilant and professional at all times.”
MV Grande America was still aflame when Argyll left the merchant ship around 5am; the Italian-registered vessel had been bound for Casablanca from Hamburg when the fire broke out at 8pm yesterday.