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Royal Navy sailors aboard the frigate HMS Argyll have saved the 27 crew of a container ship which turned into a raging inferno off the French coast in the Bay of Biscay…

The crew of HMS Argyll spent eight hours saving every soul aboard the Grande America after the ship’s cargo caught fire. The frigate – on her way home to Plymouth after nine months away in the Asia-Pacific region – responded to a mayday from the 28,000-tonne merchant ship about 150 miles southwest of Brest: the crew were fighting a losing battle against the flames and were abandoning ship into 5m to 6m seas at night.

When they did, all 27 crammed aboard the lifeboat which smashed into the heavy seas as it launched, damaging the craft which was unable to make headway. Despite very difficult sea conditions, Argyll succeeded in launching her sea boat which nudged the lifeboat against the frigate’s side so the Grande America’s crew could be brought aboard.

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “HMS Argyll’s swift and selfless response to very dangerous situation in difficult conditions undoubtedly saved 27 lives. I commend her crew. This recue demonstrates that even on the final leg of a challenging nine month deployment to the Far East, the Royal Navy’s sailors remain vigilant and professional at all times.”

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