The sailboats were taking part in a transatlantic race from Plymouth, England to Newport, Rhode Island, when they were hit by storm conditions Friday 1,600 kilometres off Newfoundland that saw seas of 15 metres and winds of 130 kilometres an hour, according to the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre (JRCC).
An international rescue mission was coordinated by the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Halifax, in which rescue coordination centres in Canada, Portugal, the UK and the US were all involved.
They ships were reported to be spread over a span of more than 150 nautical miles of violent seas, necessitating multiple ships for the rescue to different locations.
One of the rescued sailors was taken aboard the Queen Mary II ocean liner on Saturday where Shelburne County, Nova Scotia residents Ken and Rosie Chetwynd watched things unfold.
“We're aboard the Queen Mary II, mid-Atlantic, and we rescued a lone yachtsman who had broken down in yesterday's hurricane force winds,” Chetwynd told the Tri-County Vanguard in a message he sent over the weekend.
The Chetwynds were on their way home to Nova Scotia after spending a couple of months aboard in Europe. The couple was in London – although not anywhere in harm’s way – when terror attacks occurred in the city on June 3. The day after those attacks Chetwynd had commented on how they were struck by the resiliency of Londoners to go about their normal routines in the section of the city they were in.
From onboard the Queen Mary II, Chetwynd took photographs of the rescue that happened at sea on Saturday. Aircraft patrolled the sky above the luxury cruise liner as the sailor was brought to safety.
According to tweets sent out by Joint Task Force Atlantic (JTFA) over the weekend, assets involved in the massive international rescue mission involving included a Cormorant, merchant ships MSC Anzou, Labrador and Federal Kushiro, the research vessel Thor Magni, a CC-130 Hercules and CP-140 Aurora and the Queen Mary II, among others. Assets were tasked from Greenwood, Trenton and Gander.
JTFA tweeted that container ships approaching on the weekend were prevented from nearing the sailing vessels due to their size and sea conditions. HMCS Charlottetown and Coast Guard ships Pearkes and Cygnus were also tasked.
After successful rescues from two other vessels had taken place, the Queen Mary II aided in the rescue involving a third vessel.
“Under the direction of the #JRCCHalifax, commercial vessels and aircraft provided critical assistance throughout the mission,” read a tweet from Joint Task Force Atlantic over the weekend. “Bravo Zulu and thanks to all!” read another tweet.