ST JOHN’S – Three survivors of the MV Concorde, a vessel that was destroyed following an explosion at sea on Wednesday, have recounted the heroic act of their captain during the harrowing ordeal when they were stranded at sea for almost a day.
Yesterday morning, Ishmael “Ish” Harris, Tyrone “Nance” Joseph and Percel Griffin were picked up by a sailboat, as they drifted in a small dinghy about 23 miles north-west of St John’s.
The trio, along with Captain Ivan “Powerline” Joseph, was travelling to Barbuda on The Concorde – a 50ft wooden vessel that set out from Antigua at about 10 a.m. on Wednesday and was expected to arrive at its destination by 4 p.m.
Some hours later, the three survivors were transported to Antigua aboard a Coast Guard vessel where they were greeted by family members at Deep Water Harbour. They later gathered at Mount St John’s Medical Centre (MSJMC) to get a glimpse of the men.
The men were said to be dehydrated, however, they all walked off the rescue vessel with assistance of emergency medical personnel before being placed on stretchers and subsequently gurneys. They were transported to hospital via ambulance.
According to Harris’ sister, Carlie Harris, her sibling had injuries to the left side of his face, while Griffin sustained a wound to the right side of his face.
The survivors told a tale of the selfless act of their captain who sacrificed his life as the men feared they would be attacked by sharks that had swarmed close to them after they managed to make it to the life raft.
Ivan Joseph’s legs were reportedly blown off during the explosion, and the 59-year-old Yorks fisherman was also said to have suffered abdominal injuries and was bleeding profusely.
“They said he [told them] he could not go on any more and that he would not make it. So in order to make them survive, he opted to sacrifice himself so that they could get away,” one family member told the Observer.
Meanwhile, Lieutenant Commander of the Antigua & Barbuda Coast Guard Auden Nicholas confirmed the trio said an explosion caused the total destruction of The Concorde.
The Coast Guard commander said fewer vessels were involved in the search for Joseph late yesterday but efforts were continuing.
Nicholas also praised the efforts of a number of fishermen and others who joined in the search.
A comprehensive search involving Caribbean Helicopters, a plane from Guadeloupe, a Dutch frigate and several fishermen had been under way off Barbuda since Wednesday afternoon.