Page last updated at 05:40 GMT, Tuesday, 6 April 2010 06:40 UK

Aberystwyth lifeboat man's DIY store Caribbean rescue

Alex Evans
Alex Evans wrote down the coordinates of his friend's ship on the receipt from the DIY store

A lifeboat crewman helped coordinate a rescue in the Caribbean on his mobile phone from a DIY store in Aberystwyth.

Alex Evans answered a call from friend Mark Corbett who said he was on a ship that was taking on water and his was the only number he could remember.

Mr Evans wrote down the latitude and longitude on a till receipt and contacted Milford Haven Coastguard.

They alerted their colleagues over 4,000 miles away and the ship was located, made safe and towed ashore.

Mark Corbett
Mark Corbett is safely back on dry land

Mr Corbett, 25, had previously served with 27-year-old Mr Evans on the Aberystwyth lifeboat.

Mr Evans, from the town, said he was stood at the checkout with his mother when a strange phone number appeared on his mobile phone.

After answering, his friend told him: "I'm on a ship in the Caribbean, we are taking in water and sinking, we've lost all power, so can't use the long range radio.

"We're too far from shore to use the VHF, I'm using the satellite phone, and yours is the only number I could remember off the top of my head. The ship's name is the Motor Yacht Titanic."

Mr Evans said he initially feared the call might be a joke - especially when he was told the ship's name was Titanic.

He said: "I said to Mark if this was a hoax and I launched an international rescue, I would give him the bill. But he said, no, it was serious.

Alex Evans relives the moment his friend called him from the sinking ship

"I could tell there was panic in his voice which is why I knew he wasn't winding me up."

Mr Evans said his mayday training kicked in and he took all the details, such as the ship's size, position and resources, while stood in the kitchen display area of the the DIY store.

He was told that the ship was over 70m long, weighed nearly 1,700 tonnes and there were three crew members on board.

Mr Evans rang the coastguard at Milford Haven and asked to be passed through to the Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Falmouth which deals with all international incidents.

He gave them the details of the position of the ship and the nature of the emergency.

A French rescue spotter plane was sent to the area, as well as a US Coastguard helicopter carrying a salvage pump, and a US Coastguard Cutter to take the vessel under tow.

The coordinates on the store receipt
The coordinates on the store receipt

After returning home Mr Evans received a further call from Mr Corbett to tell him that Falmouth had been keeping him updated on the rescue and the spotter-plane could be heard flying overhead.

The rescue took place last Wednesday and Mr Corbett has since posted an update on social networking site Facebook to say that all was well.

A commercial tug had been commissioned by the ship's owners, which had taken over the tow from the US Coastguard, and they were now safely ashore.

Mr Corbett had been working on the former fishing boat to help turn it into a "super yacht" but Mr Evans said he is due home soon.

"It's lucky he knew my mobile number off by heart - he calls me enough," added Mr Evans.

"It's also lucky I was in town and not driving home because I wouldn't have got a mobile signal after leaving Aberystwyth."



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