On 28th March 2023 at about 2:03am the Antigua and Barbuda Defence Force (ABDF) Coast Guard received a report from Maritime Rescue Coordination Center (MRCC) Fort-De-France of a vessel that capsized approx. 45NM North West of Antigua and 15NM North East of St. Kitts.

According to further reports received by this Headquarters, the distressed vessel was reportedly transporting some 32 passengers onboard.

Upon receiving the report, the ABDF Coast Guard immediately contacted the St Kitts & Nevis (SKN) Coast Guard and it was confirmed that their maritime asset, SKNCG HERMITAGE was on scene and a coordinated rescue effort was being conducted with other vessels (2 Cruise Ships and other sailing vessels) in the vicinity.

Further to the initial report, it was confirmed by MRCC Fort De France that the capsized vessel was identified as a French fishing vessel, LA BELLE MICHELLE II. The ABDF Coast Guard and the ABDF Air Wing were placed on standby by the MRCC to offer any assistance needed to the search and rescue efforts.

Additional information confirms that sixteen (16) persons were rescued; two (2) Antiguan nationals and fourteen (14) Africans. Three (3) bodies were recovered to the time of this release. Search and Rescue efforts remain ongoing.

The ABDF Coast Guard continues to coordinate with MRCC Fort-De-France and the St. Kitts & Nevis Defence Force Coast Guard to bring closure to this matter.

Time of Press Release: 6pm GMT-0400