STOCKTON, CA — On Friday, January 6, 2012, the Stockton Port received a special package whose delivery not only benefitted Stockton, but turned into a life saving story for Russia.
James Luttrell, Able Seaman Watchstandard of Pacific Marine and Gulf, working on Ocean Titan shared that while navigating to Sacramento, California on a mission to deliver a crane from Rostock, Germany, his crew had to make an urgent stop to save a Russian crew from a sinking chemical tanker called Aphrodite. “In five years of working as a seaman, I have never seen anything like it,” said Luttrell.
He explained that about 100-200 miles from Rotterdam, Germany a small cargo ship named Florece tried to overtake (similar to passing on the freeway) chemical tanker Aphrodite; the Florece crew failed on the overtake hitting the Russian ship and sinking it.
“Aphrodite had attempted to deploy its fast rescue craft but had been unsuccessful due to the sea swell,” explained Cospas-Sarsat an international satellite system for search and rescue, a program based in Montreal Quebec, Canada.
Ocean Titan was nearby and able to rescue the Aphrodite crew: “In the 700 to 800 foot ship [the Ocean Titan] it can be nerve wrecking in bad weather; we had 15-20 foot swells,” noted Luttrell. “For them, in the small boats, it would have been terrifying- who knows what would have happened if we would not have brought them on board?” One and a half days later the crew was delivered to Portugal, “It was emotional and they were really thankful.”
The crane is part of a federal grant for both the Sacramento Port and the Stockton Port, which are being expanded to allow faster unloading at both ports for the M-580 Marine Highway Corridor between the Port of Stockton and Port of Oakland.