Mystery of 'dumped' man found drifting on raft of oildrums
By Marcus Oscarsson in Stockholm and Joanna Bale, The Times April 22, 2006
A MAN found floating on a raft 30 miles (48 km) out to sea between Norway and Denmark insisted yesterday that he had been thrown overboard from a British ship.
The crew on the Norwegian gas tanker Berge Odin thought that they were mistaken when they spotted the lone man sitting on a makeshift raft of oil drums and planks in international waters. They had initially mistaken him for a large piece of debris, but when they approached him he politely explained in English what had happened. "I have been dumped from another boat," he said. The Norwegian crew lowered a rescue boat, helped him aboard their vessel and gave him a hot bath, dry clothing and food before alerting the Norwegian Sea Rescue Service.
At first the crew believed him to be in good health, but it soon became obvious that the hours on the raft had taken their toll. "The man's condition is worse than first assumed. He is suffering from hypothermia, is dehydrated and exhausted. We are not sure what is behind the incident
but the man claims he has been dumped on the raft against his will. He says he has been on it for three days and nights," Per Erik Bjö rklund, an official with Bergesen, the shipping company, said.
He emphasised that the man was lucky to be found, adding: "The raft was small - four small oil drums and a wood pallet tied together. Temperatures were at freezing point and the raft would stand only minor waves."
The man was found 30 miles south of Randøysund, Norway. Anders Bang-Andersen, spokesman for the southern Norwegian Sea Rescue Centre, in Sola, said: "He had hardly any clothes on him and was frozen through. You hear these kind of Robinson Crusoe stories from other parts of the world, but not very often here in the far north."
Mr Bang-Andersen praised the ship's crew for its fast response, calling the effort "an excellent example of seamanship". The man has said little, other than that his name is George and that he was born in California in 1959.
"After being rescued, he turned into a man of very few words," Jan Haakon Pettersen, the deputy chief executive of Bergesen, said. "He did not want to say any more before meeting a lawyer."
The ship continued on its way to the southern Swedish port of Marstrand, where the man was scheduled to be interviewed by police.
A bit more here, with pics of the raft.