Major rescue operation called off after claims DFDS passenger went overboard is confirmed a hoax

A major rescue operation was called off after a passenger who reported a man-overboard incident on the Amsterdam ferry withdrew his report.

Saturday, 22nd February 2020, 1:42 pm
Updated Sunday, 23rd February 2020, 3:08 pm
Captain Flemming Langballe praised the staff onboard the King Seaways for their response to the incident. Photos copyright DFDS.

HM Coastguard confirmed the incident was being handled as a hoax alert.

Crew reported the incident on the North Shields-to-Ijmuiden DFDS ship after the witness who raised the alert was interviewed by a member of its top staff.

The incident began to unfold during the hours of darkness when the man claimed he saw a person fall overboard from the King Seaways.

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A helicopter was sent to the area, about 55 miles east of Flamborough, while three commercial vessels were called in to help and other resources including man overboard boats were launched as part of the initial response.

A lifebuoy with lights was also thrown into the sea, and the captain made a so-called Williamson turn, a manoeuvre that turns the ship around to follow the same course in the opposite direction towards the location of the incident.

Following the operation, rescue authorities reported the incident to the UK and Danish police, as the ship sailed under Danish flag and the incident took place in international waters.

The ship's captain Flemming Langballe praised his staff for their swift response, including the officer on duty, chief officer, commercial head who interviewed the man who made the report and “quickly communicated it when it proved to be a false alarm.”

“The crew acted in an extremely professional manner,” Captain Flemming Langballe added.

“Later on, however, the man who caused the alarm withdrew his report.

“We used the PA system to check if other passengers had seen anything and after confirming that they had not, we agreed with Humber to call off the search.

“I am extremely proud of the way the crew dealt with the incident.

“They took responsibility and acted fast when it was needed.

“They clearly demonstrated the benefits of the many on-board emergency drills.”

Due to good wind conditions, the ship reached its destination just 45 minutes late after the alert, which was raised at 11.45pm on Wednesday, February 19.