Prince William praised for helping save Russian sailors in daring rescue

The cargo ship Swanland sank off the coast of Wales in gale-force winds, sparking a desperate rescue effort. Prince William co-piloted the helicopter that save two of the crewmen.

Prince William helped save the lives of two crewman in a frantic rescue operation after a cargo ship sank early Sunday morning as gale-force winds swept across the Irish Sea.

334c3b87daa646c89869One person is dead and five others are missing from the cargo ship Swanland, which sank about 20 kilometres off the Wales coastline near the Lleyn Peninsula.

William was co-pilot on the Sea King helicopter from RAF Valley in Wales which rescued two of the eight Russian crew members following a mayday call at about 2 a.m. Sunday. They returned to the area Monday morning to aid in the search for missing crew members.

Russia's ambassador to Britain has written to William to offer praise for the rescue efforts.

"We know that you took an active part in the rescue and the two seamen were saved thanks to your selfless effort under the bad weather conditions," ambassador Alexander Yakovenko told William in a letter.

"Let me express to you and your colleagues my deepest gratitude for saving the lives of the Russian citizens," he wrote.

The two survivors were flown back to RAF Valley before going to hospital.

"I think they are okay and are just suffering from shock," coast guard manager Ray Carson told the Daily Mail.

"In broken English and through drawing a diagram, the second officer told us the ship was hit by an enormous wave. It rolled the ship and broke its back. Obviously it was such a catastrophic failure she sank very quickly."

The 81-metre ship was carrying about 3,000 tonnes of limestone, bound for the Isle of Wight.
One body was found in the water later in the morning. Rescue craft and helicopters covered about 775 sq. km. of the Irish Sea on Sunday. On Monday they found some additional wreckage, but no sign of the five missing crew members.

Ironically, Britian announced on Monday that it will stop providing a helicopter search and rescue service, shifting the responsibility to a civilian service.

Transport Secretary Justine Greening confirmed that contracts will be awarded to civilian rescue crews once the air force retires its fleet of Sea King helicopters by March 2016. It's part of the cost cutting to the defence ministry, which has a $58-million annual budget.

People watch waves crash over the Holyhead breakwater as the search continues for the crew of cargo vessel The Swanland which sank off north Wales on Nov. 27 in Holyhead, Wales.  (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
A Royal Air Force search and rescue helicopter prepares to leaves RAF Valley as the search continues for the crew of cargo vessel Swanland which sank off north Wales on Nov. 27 in Anglesey, Wales. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)


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Cleary he follows his Mother's footsteps with the care and concern of others before himself. She would have been so proud...

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