23rd January 1984

Radiant Med sinks with loss of life

The Radiant Med, a 3000-ton Liberian-registered cargo ship, sank 15 miles off Guernsey on 23 January 1984. She had been carrying grain from Ghent to the Congo when she struck rocks in force 11 gales, ruptured her number two hold and started to take in water.

Despite being so close to Guernsey, the Radiant Med was still within the area for which France had responsibility for search and rescue. The French control centre near Cherbourg immediately swung into action to affect a rescue operation and notified the British coastguard within quarter of an hour of receiving the Radiant Med’s distress message.

The French planned to escort the stricken ship to port so the damage could be assessed, but around 90 minutes after it had started taking on water things took a turn for the worse. The ship’s cargo had shifted in the hold, making her list to one side.

Abandon ship

The crew abandoned ship, taking to the lifeboats and rafts at 1.15am, at which point the French authorities called on the St Peter Port lifeboat for assistance. It was dispatched shortly after 1.30am and was joined by HMS Orkney, an island-class patrol vessel that has since been sold to the Trinidad and Tobago coastguard and renamed TTS Nelson. She was the sister vessel of HMS Guernsey, which was sold to Bangladesh in January 2004.

Despite having so many resources on hand, nothing could be done to save the Radiant Med and she sank at 2.47am at a depth of 68m. Britain sent three Sea King helicopters to the scene, at the request of the French authorities, and the search for survivors began. The St Peter Port lifeboat rescued nine of the 24 crew from the Radiant Med’s own lifeboats, but none of the others survived. All but one of the bodies were later recovered.


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