Jamaica’s Captain Steven Spence, master of the M/V Caribe Navigator, is today feeling humbled and elated, having had the opportunity on April 25 to save two Jamaican fishermen who were lost at sea.
The two, Anthony Hibbert, 36 and Jason Nobel, 25, were among five men who were lost at Sea for more than a month. The other men did not survive.
The M/V Caribe Navigator was on its regular voyage, sailing to Florida, Belize and Mexico when the fishermen were spotted.
“These guys were just very lucky. They were very weak, sunburnt, dehydrated and starving. Another 24 hrs I am not sure the younger one would not have made it,” Captain Spence said.
Committed to help
Noting that it was his instinct that led him to stop, Captain Spence stated that he was following his obligation as a user of the seas to assist before he knew they were his countrymen.
“Nationality played no part in the rescue. I was committed to helping them even before I realized they were Jamaicans. By no means did I consider myself a hero. The true heroes survived 36 days adrift in harsh conditions,” Captain Spence said.
“I merely stopped 30 minutes to get them onboard my vessel. Of course when I heard their story of survival I was very happy to help my countrymen. Thanks to all the crew and the authorities in Belize the process was smooth,” he added.
The initial communication when the men were rescued was sent to the Maritime Authority of Jamaica (MAJ) by Captain Spence. Contact was then made with the Jamaica Defence Force and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade.
The MAJ then contacted Commander Richard Russell, Executive Director for the Fisheries Division of the Ministry of Agriculture, who was, at the time, in Belize on Government business. He quickly visited the men and assisted in making arrangements for them to be repatriated. The men returned to Jamaica on May 4.