Extraordinary rescue of cargo ship crew remembered in Guernsey 40 years on

  • Video report by Roisin Gauson

Guernsey's RNLI is marking exactly 40 years since one of the most audacious rescue efforts in its history. On 13 December 1981, the St Peter Port lifeboat was scrambled to the aid of an 8,000 tonne Ecuadorian cargo ship which was sinking in hurricane force winds. 29 crew members were rescued thanks to the bravery of the islanders involved that day.

Credit: RNLI

The MV Bonita was sailing from Hamburg to Panama when it was caught up in horrendous weather and forced to send an SOS.

Guernsey's lifeboat was among those called out to help due to the strong winds affecting how much the helicopter could do.

The crew persevered through force-12 winds and 50ft waves on the four-hour journey to the scene, right in the middle of the English Channel.

The ship was on its side and sinking, with one wing of the bridge fully immersed in water.

The Coxswain, Michael Scales, was awarded a gold medal, and crew members awarded bronze medals, for their involvement by the RNLI.

Their heroic efforts were also immortalised in a special 30-year anniversary film released by the organisation in 2011.