Off Cape Verde, after having rescued a French skipper, the crew of the Falcon 50 of the French Navy carried out a fishing surveillance mission before being diverted to assist a canoe in distress.
Wednesday, September 29, 2021, following the triggering of a distress beacon in the Atlantic, more than 500 nautical miles (about 900 km) from any inhabited land, the Maritime rescue coordination center (MRCC) of Cape Verde, which has no no means of intervention, alerted the Regional Operational Center for Surveillance and Rescue (CROSS) of Gris-Nez. The latter launched the Falcon 50 M, based in Dakar, in order to locate the beacon and organize a rescue operation.
While the crew was rallying the area, northwest of Cape Verde, the CROSS Gris-Nez, with its real-time knowledge of maritime traffic, asked the nearest merchant vessel , the Eco Joshua Park , to divert to provide assistance.
Arrived in the area, the Falcon 50’s radar made it possible to quickly locate the sailboat in distress towards which it was able to guide the Eco Joshua Park . The sailors then took stock of the situation with the French skipper of the Gundar who reported having a major waterway following an impact with a drifting container and who estimated that he was at risk of sinking in a few minutes.
Despite raging weather and 5-meter-high troughs, the merchant finally managed to retrieve the French skipper and his dog who had both boarded their dinghy just before the Gundar sank.
The next day, the Falcon 50 M carried out a fisheries surveillance mission for the benefit of the Cape Verde authorities, with a local fisheries inspector on board. At the very end of the mission, the MRCC of Praia informed the crew of the sky sailors of the disappearance of a fishing canoe since the day before with two people on board.
The Falcon 50 M then diverted to the last known position, north of the island of Sal. Methodically, the crew defined their research area by working on different scenarios and by learning about the habits of Cape Verdean fishermen thanks to the invaluable help of the fisheries inspector. Despite the degraded weather conditions and a wooden hull undetectable by radar in rough seas, the crew was able to detect and identify with certainty the missing boat less than 2 hours later. The canoe, very probably in “engine damage”, drifted dangerously towards a rocky coast. A Cape Verdean coast guard star was then dispatched to rescue the boat.
The French Navy directly contributed to the rescue of these two fishermen, strengthening the links between Cape Verde and France.