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Vigilant Skipper on Fishing Boat Saves 31 Lives After Boat Capsizes in the English Channel


Arcturus – Ben Squires.

The skipper of a scallop trawler became an unlikely hero after a dinghy filled with refugees attempting to cross the English channel in wintertime broke apart.

His vigilance and mariner skill saved 31 lives of men and children that night from the freezing water.

It was dark and cold in early December after a cold snap fell over the Channel, dropping the water temp to just above freezing. Around 4AM Ben Squires, the owner of Oceanian Drifter Fishing, got a call from the captain of one of his boats, the Arcturus.

The captain said that migrants in a flimsy inflatable dinghy had managed to make a distress call to a charity, and that he was close enough to affect some kind of rescue in what was a fairly-small fishing vessel.

“The bottom of their boat had gone so they were all in the water in the freezing cold, panicking and extremely scared,” Squire told the Plymouth Herald.

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Thousands of migrants try to cross the channel every year in unseaworthy vessels.

Most of the 43 onboard the dinghy were men, but 4 children were also rescued. The French and British coastal guards, as well as the navies and police assisted in the efforts after the Arcturus had done all it could.

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“He’s a really professional skipper… he kept calm… and his training obviously kicked in,” Squire said in another interview. “Amazingly he got right in next to the sinking boat and managed to come alongside and safely get 31 people on board the boat as it unfolded.”

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