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LONDON, November 28 (Itar-Tass) — Russian Federation's Ambassador to the UK Alexander Yakovenko has sent a letter to Prince William in connection with the rescue operation for the search of Russian sailors from the sunken Swanland vessel. In this message, as well as on his Twitter page, Yakovenko expressed gratitude to William, who is second in line of succession to the British throne and his fellow UK Royal Air Force (RAF) officers for the rescue of two RF citizens last Sunday after the shipwreck in the Irish Sea.
“For the whole day we were following the rescue operation,” says the Russian ambassador’s letter to Prince William. “We know that You within a response team have been actively involved in the rescue operation, and two sailors’ lives were saved thanks to your selfless efforts in adverse weather conditions,” Yakovenko noted. “Let me express profound gratitude to You and Your colleagues for saving the lives of Russians.”
According to a BBC report, British emergency services returned at 07:30 GMT (11:30 MSK) on Monday to the area of the Irish Sea where the ship sank after breaking in two on Sunday. Two members of the Swanland’s eight crew were plucked from a life raft by an RAF rescue helicopter early on Sunday.
One man’s body was found later but a search by lifeboats and aircraft discovered no trace of the rest, according to the BBC. The search was called off at 16:45 GMT on Sunday after beginning at about 02:00, when a mayday call was received from the 81m (265ft) coaster and its Russian-speaking crew. One of the two survivors reported that the ship was struggling in gale force winds when it was struck by an “enormous” wave.
Holyhead coastguards said the vessel disappeared from the radar screen at 02:20 and said a crew member told them it had been rolled over by the wave, breaking its back, the BBC reported. Search conditions improved during the day but a large amount of debris was found at the search location 30 miles north-west of the Lleyn peninsula. One life raft was found near Bardsey island off the peninsula, but it was empty.
Prince William, who is a helicopter co-pilot at RAF Valley on Anglesey, took part in the rescue of the two survivors, the report says. Irish rescue helicopters also participated in the operation as well as a spotter plane.
The RNLI launched the Porthdinllaen and Pwllheli lifeboats in the early hours. Holyhead's all-weather lifeboat joined the search in the afternoon.
The Swanland, a regular visitor to the area, was carrying rock that was loaded at the Llanddulas jetty near Abergele and was en route to Cowes, Isle of Wight. In August 2010, the ship came close to grounding on rocks off the Lizard peninsula in Cornwall after the engines failed. According to one shipspotting website, the vessel was built in the Netherlands and is managed by the Torbulk company, in Grimsby.
On Sunday, British military managed to rescue two crewmembers of the sunken ship – Roman Savin and Vitaly Kornenko. The crew of an RAF helicopter, one of the pilots of which was Prince William – a grandson of Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain, picked them up from a life raft.
The third crewmember - Leonid Sapunov, was found dead at sea in several hours. Five Russian sailors are still unaccounted for. The Russian embassy has not disclosed their names.
“The rescued sailors need aid. Representatives of the ship owner - Torbulk Ltd are currently taking care of them. Upon completion of all the required formalities Roman Savin and Vitaly Kornenko with assistance of the Russian Embassy in London will be sent home,” the diplomatic mission sources said.
The Swanland ship with a crew of eight Russians flying the flag of the Cook Islands, sank on Sunday night at the British coast in the Irish Sea in severe storm conditions. Taking part in the search and rescue operation on Sunday were four helicopters, seven Coast Guard boats, but their work was complicated by the bad weather.
Swanland sank in a gale force 8 storm in the Irish Sea 10 miles off the Lleyn Peninsula, Gwynedd at approximately 02:00 on Sunday 27 November 2011. She was carrying limestone from Raynes Jetty near Colwyn Bay to Cowes on the Isle of Wight. Two crewmembers were rescued during the sinking with Prince William, Duke of Cambridge taking part in the rescue mission. The rescued crew described how a large wave broke the ship’s back.