Saturday, 21 Apr 2018
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Michel Cousseau, radio, picks up a SOS

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last November, in the columns of our journal, Michel Cousseau evoked its irradiation to Mururoa but memories it was a lot. Here is one. It was in 1969, at the back of the campaign of nuclear testing in French Polynesia in 1968, he was assigned to another boat: the escort wing ” La Bourdonnais “, brother of the Forbin, his previous ship-board as the radio.

On the night of July 24, 1969, he was one-quarter (service). For the only time in his life he picked up an SOS from the freighter, French ” City of Mahajanga “. Immediately he was transmitting the distress message to the officer of the watch at the bridge (the command post). The staff had already heard a very strong explosion. The Pasha was awakened and ordered to put the boat to full speed (about 28 knots).
Arrived on the scene of the disaster to the south of the Island, other boats had joined them. A tragic sight awaited them. The cargo ship “City of Mahajanga” was in collision with the tanker (tankers) Norwegian ” Nilja “. Only the cargo remained at the surface, the front was pushed in and the fire broke out already all the front. The oil tanker had exploded and sunk net, leaving no chance to its occupants. The sea, that night, was very quiet. He heard screaming to the surface of the water. Sailors almost naked, surprised in their sleep, clinging to the frail skiffs, pieces of a board or any other debris, which can float, called to the rescue. A large part of the night they had rescued the survivors, cared for, and comforted. the ” I have in memory the gaze of two men, the pasha and the cook of the oil. Each was accompanied by his wife and one of them had been found. They were waiting to know the identity of this woman, unfortunately, died. The distress in their eyes will forever remain etched in my memory.” They had supported several sailors on board, lent them clothes and offered a few cigarettes. the ” I don’t remember how many have sunk in the sinking of the cheonan, but probably between 20 and 30. It was a nightmarish night. I will never forget the great brotherhood and solidarity of people of sea, and my modest contribution to the rescue of these people, thanks to the one and only SOS picked up during my brief career as a sailor “.

This tanker Norwegian was a huge oil tanker. The Suez canal was closed because of the war between Israel and Egypt. The oil companies had been chartered, huge boats that can carry up to 300,000 tons of crude oil to work their way around Africa to supply Europe. This ship was empty and was turned into a real bomb, such as a gas bottle, it is the reason of its explosion. This disaster followed the loss of a submarine.
” on The 27th of January 1968, the Minerva disappeared body, and property, with 52 people on board. One of the radios was one of my best buddies promotion. We will never return to the wreck. We will never know why and on 4 march 1970, the submarine Eurydice (same model as the Minerve) faded in turn with his entire crew. It will be found the 22 April of the same year with no survivors. These are some of the tragic memories that mark forever my journey in the Navy “.

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