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Yacht skipper rescued in the North Atlantic by Milford-bound LNG tanker crew

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A MILFORD HAVEN-bound LNG tanker changed course to save the life of a skipper of a yacht who had run in to trouble on a voyage near Bermuda.

The 31-foot sloop left Bermuda with one person onboard, however during the journey he was “unable to start the engine or sail in the prevailing light winds, and he made the decision to abandon the yacht.”

The LNG tanker Torben Spirit, which arrived in Milford Haven on Christmas Eve, diverted to assist him, and the ship’s captain brought the sailor back to the island, with officials noting that “the yacht skipper was grateful to be back on dry land.”

A Bermuda Maritime Operations Centre spokesperson said, “Wednesday 16th December, 11:45 am – RCC Bermuda received a 406 MHz PLB alert from a U.S. registered beacon originating from a position approximately 250 miles south east of Bermuda.

“The beacon was unregistered however, it was known to be generated from the Bermuda registered 31 ft sloop Mujan which left Bermuda on Friday 11th December bound for St Kitts with one person onboard.

“On departure, Mujan had filed a float plan with Bermuda Radio and details of this beacon had been recorded. The United States Coast Guard also received the distress alerts and in consultation with RCC Bermuda, launched a C-130 aircraft from Elizabeth City, NJ to search the area. The merchant vessel LNG tanker Torben Spirit was diverted to assist.

“At 3:45pm that afternoon both the merchant vessel and US SAR aircraft were on scene and in communication with Mujan, the skipper was unable to start the engine or sail in the prevailing light winds, and he made the decision to abandon the yacht and board the tanker, this was done using the yachts tender.

“Once safely onboard the Torben Spirit, the ship’s Captain kindly arranged to divert from the planned passage to Milford Haven in the UK and take the stricken sailor back home to Bermuda.

“At 7:00 am on Thursday morning. the transfer was made to the Pilot/Rescue Boat St George and the yacht skipper was grateful to be back in Bermuda. The yacht was unfortunately left a drift and RCC Bermuda has issued a navigation warning regarding the floating hazard.”

The vessel TORBEN SPIRIT was built in 2017 and is currently sailing under the flag of Bahamas.

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Sergeant Hillier ‘died doing the job he loved’, says his heartbroken father

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THE ARMY SERGEANT who died after being injured in a live firing exercise, has been named locally.

The incident occurred at Castlemartin Training Area, and led to the death of Sgt Gavin Hillier, who was in the Welsh Guards.

In a post on social media, his father wrote: “Absolutely devastated to be writing this post, probably the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.

“At 3.45am this morning I received a phone call that will forever change my life. My eldest son Gavin Mark Hillier was in a fatal accident yesterday in the army (the job he loved).

“Sleep tight & rest in peace son. I’m so proud of you. Goodnight and god bless, love your heartbroken dad.”

An Army spokesperson said: “It is with great sadness we can confirm the death of a soldier on March 4.

“Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this tragic time.

“The circumstances surrounding this death are being investigated and it would be inappropriate to comment any further.”

It is understood that Sergeant Hillier, who served as part of the Welsh Guards’ motor transport platoon, was due to be deployed to Iraq and had previously been awarded a Long Service and Good Conduct medal by Prince Charles, the regiment’s Colonel in Chief, in 2019.

The tragic incident is the latest in a number of accidents at Castlemartin.

In 2017, The Herald reported that two soldiers died in a tank explosion, which a coroner ruled was due to a design flaw.

The following year, an Army captain was jailed in July 2018 after a 21-year-old soldier was killed by a stray bullet during an exercise at the range in 2012.

An investigation has been launched into the death of a soldier at Castlemartin RAC Range following a military exercise.

Police were called to the site at just before 10.45pm on March 4.

Sadly, a man was pronounced dead shortly after. Our thoughts are with his family, who have been informed of the incident and are being supported by specialist officers.

An investigation is underway led by Dyfed-Powys Police. Officers are liaising with the Health and Safety Executive and MoD.

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Welsh Guards sergeant shot dead during Castlemartin live-fire training exercise

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A BRITISH ARMY sergeant was killed on Thursday night (Mar 4) in a shooting accident at Castlemartin Training Area, The Herald can confirm.

The solider was training with live ammunition, ahead of a planned deployment to Iraq this summer.

Five police cars and an ambulance were seen screaming through Pembroke towards the incident at approximately 10pm towards the incident.

A coastguard helicopter, CG187, was scrambled to the scene, and hovered near Bosherston for a while, but was stood down and returned to base.

The Herald has contacted the MOD for a comment, who said: “It is with great sadness we can confirm the death of a soldier on the 4th of March.

“Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this tragic time.

“The circumstances surrounding this death are being investigated and it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time.”

THIS STORY IS UPDATING

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Pembrokeshire County Council bills Home Office for Penally camp costs

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THE COUNCIL has sent an invoice for more than £80,000 to the Home Office.

It is to cover some of the costs that the local authority has incurred in connection with the Penally Asylum Seeker Centre, near Tenby.

Following a question on the issue from Cllr Jonathan Preston at Full Council the Council have confirmed that a bill has been sent.

The Member for Penally ward asked: “Please can the relevant Cabinet Member provide a breakdown of all costs to this authority which have been incurred in providing staff, services and other associated resources to Penally camp since its re-purpose by the Home Office last September?”

Council leader Cllr. David Simpson confirmed that on February 22 Pembrokeshire County Council submitted an invoice for £83, 858 which includes £65,564 in staff costs, £12,799 of specialist support and £5,495 for works such as barriers.

Pembrokeshire County Council is currently awaiting payment, the Authority confirmed.

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