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Rotterdam Rescues Refugees Off the Coast of Florida

While sailing toward Fort Lauderdale, Florida, the evening of Nov. 9, Rotterdam spotted a refugee boat needing assistance. The ship maneuvered to the craft, and the U.S. Coast Guard was notified. Thirteen people were taken aboard Rotterdam for a wellness check by the ship’s medical team, food, accommodations and support. Later in the evening they were transferred to a U.S. Coast Guard cutter for continued assistance.

Lieutenant Commander Ryan Wester – Commanding Officer of the William Flores – sent a note to Rotterdam Captain Bas Van Dreumel thanking him for the help:

“Your efforts by Elbow Cay, Bahamas, undoubtedly saved the lives of 13 mariners tonight. With Hurricane Nicole bearing down on the east coast of Florida, maritime conditions this evening were especially unforgivable. By your swift action and sound seamanship, 13 individuals can call themselves survivors tonight.”

Rotterdam was scheduled to be departing Fort Lauderdale at the time of rescue but was instead at sea waiting out Tropical Storm Nicole.

5 Comments
  • Barbara Seelen

    I was on this ship and witnessed this rescue. It was very emotional watching this packed raft in the high seas and wondering if they would be swept out to sea. When a life line was sent to the raft, it was not quite long enough and one of the refugees jumped off the raft to retrieve it. The crew and passengers where cheering these folks as they grabbed hood of the line and eventually were pulled in. The captain and crew were outstanding.

  • Kathy

    Well done, I would not have expected anything less from the crew of MS Rotterdam.

  • Gigi McGarvey

    This Captain was phenomenal! So reassuring as we faced the storm and then he rescued these souls! They would have never made it to shore without the Schipässen assistance!

  • Janet Curtis

    Wow! Kudos to HAL and the crew of Rotterdam for this life saving mission.

  • Nathan sheffer

    My name is Nathan Sheffer. I just wanted to take a minute to say how great the Rotterdam crew was in the rescue of 13 refugees. they acted quickly in responding to the call to action. And appreciate Captain Bas van Dreumel Volendam’s quick action. And taking the call seriously.
    But also want to take a minute to thank and recognize the person that spotted the refugees. His name is Shadd Jones in 6053. And the quick action that he and his group took. And tell the story from the source.
    It was about 15 minutes before we were going to go to dinner it was close to 5pm when shadd spotted the refugees boat and I confirmed that indeed it was a boat trying to get our attention. I had my wife keep eyes on them while I made the call for help after a few minutes our phone rang in our room. I answered and the security team asked if we could still see them and I said yes but just barely and gave their updated location. It was an amazing thing that took so many pieces to fall into place. If we would not have had an extra sea day because of the hurricane those people would have probably not survived another day probably not even a few more hours.
    My hope in writing this is not for any recognition for myself but just hope that Holland America would take the time to recognize him. For his excellent spotting skills using only some 4×32 binoculars and the quick actions taken by the ones in his group.

    P.S. A free cruise or discounted cruise for Shadd and his wife Farrah Jones would be a great gesture on Holland America’s part and would not go to waste

    Sincerely Two Star Mariner, Nathan Sheffer

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