A burning ship was sighted at a distance of four miles, by the British Ministry of Transport tank landing craft EMPIRE GUILLEMOT who issued a distress signal at approx 5.10am and steamed towards DARA. “PLEASE TAKE NECESSARY ACTION QTH (MY POSITION IS) 163 DEGREES JEZIRATTUMB ISLAND AT 19 MILES CLOSED ON BURNING SHIP, REQUEST ALL VESSELS STAND BY PICK UP SURVIVORS”.
EMPIRE GUILLEMOT took up position less than half a nautical mile from DARA and lowered 2 lifeboats and four rafts. In the first of six trips to the stricken ship, Second Officer Lieut G Bell RNR picked up approximately 80 survivors from DARA’s Lifeboat No. 2 which was taking on water. Bell, aided by his crew, and DARA’s Second Officer and Cadet who reboarded the ship concentrated their efforts on the focsle head where the majority of people had congregated to escape the blazing midship. In all 269 survivors were taken on board the EMPIRE GUILLEMOT.
Joining the rescue mission were the Norwegian tanker THORSHOLM, the Japanese tanker YUYOMARU No. 5 and British Tanker BRITISH ENERGY. In the hours that followed all three ships picked up survivors and treated the wounded as best they could.
“As the dawn came we observed 5 lifeboats and some rafts near by the burning vessel. Two of the boats were empty, half filled with water, but it was survivors in three others, one of them almost sinking. We assisted the latter one, managing to haul it alongside and also to get all 68 persons on board, one of them with a broken leg, another a broken arm and also badly burnt.” Recounted by Narve Sorensen of THORSHOLM in 2006.
By 11am BRITISH ENERGY and YUYOMARU No. 5 had departed for Bahrain with the first 213 casualties. The search for survivors continued with THORSHOLM which picked up a further 13. They had been in the water for over 7 hours.
The B.I. ship BARPETA arrived from Dubai with a doctor on board and ‘stood by’ DARA, as the EMPIRE GUILLEMOT carrying total complement of 341, including 108 survivors transferred from THORSHOLM, departed for Dubai at 3.06pm.