Wednesday, 11 December 2013 - 13:10
Wife of Missing Sailor "Devastated"
The family of two sailors who went overboard while working on a Dutch ship in the Baltic Sea is distraught that the men were unable to be rescued. The two men are cousins, and have been lost at sea since December 5, when they went over the side of the Marietje Andrea, a ship operated by Dutch firm Wagenborg. They were identified as Harlan C. Layosa, 27, and Gleemar Sapanta, 26, both of the Philippines. "I am just devastated from the news," said Layosa's wife, Jacqueline, in an interview with the NL Times. Harlan and Jacqueline Layosa, with their son, Zach (photo courtesy: Jacqueline Layosa) "They are both responsible and very loving persons to their family, especially my husband." "He loves his son so much," she said, referring to their two-year-old child. The husband and wife spoke to each other online daily, despite Layosa's travels. "The rescue operation was put on hold. Since then there has been no new news," said Swedish Maritime Administration (SMA) representative Daniel Lindblad. "The area where the two men fell in was very well covered," he said, adding that they are not optimistic the men will be found. "I am still hoping and praying that they will be found alive. I strongly believe that," Ms. Layosa said. "A lot of questions are going through my mind right now. I hope soon everything will be answered." Another family member, Regie Sapanta, said, "I'm still hoping, and pray that they are still alive." Ships searching for the two men lost in the Baltic Sea, 5 Dec. 2013 (photo: Swedish Coast Guard) "It is a great tragedy," said Albert Engelsman of Wagenborg. The atmosphere had been good on the ship, he continued. "They were a great team." The family was notified in person the day of the accident, and were visited by staff from the company's Manila office, he said. It is not clear how the two men wound up overboard south of Ystad, Sweden. "They left the bridge at 8am. At 8:15, a mate on the bridge heard a scream and saw them floating in the sea," Engelsman said. There are no security cameras monitoring the ship. "Probably, we will never know what happened." Both men were wearing their normal work clothes, and neither had on survival equipment. A large buoy was deployed to identify the location where the men were spotted, and the their ship radioed in for help soon after. The buoy was the focal point of the 16 square nautical mile search (55 square km) in 8°C water, where winds were reaching 72 km/h (44 mph). Ships searching for the two men lost in the Baltic Sea, 5 Dec. 2013 (photo: Swedish Coast Guard) The SMA quickly coordinated a search-and-rescue operation from their command center, and utilized two of their vessels and a helicopter, according to Lindblad. They were joined by the Swedish Coast Guard, who served as the On Scene Coordinator, providing two vessels and an airplane. Danish authorities also aided with two helicopters, while five merchant ships participated in the rescue attempt, including the Marietje Andrea, Lindblad said. Conditions were worsened by the storm that made its way across parts of Europe that day. The rescue was called off at 3:40pm, because winds were up to 90 km/h (56 mph) with waves averaging three meters, making it extremely unlikely to remain alive without survival gear, Lindblad told the NL Times. The men were reported as "missing" to police in Scania, Sweden, who are now looking into the case, along with Dutch police and the Dutch Safety Board (DSB). The ship was inspected upon its arrival in Riga, Latvia, after the incident. The DSB's investigation "could take a year," Engelsman said. He acknowledged it may lead to new recommendations about crew safety in the future. Those related to the men were frustrated by news that the investigation could take months, Ms. Layosa said. She wants to know why they were working on deck if there were weather warnings that day. She says she and her family are not doing well in the days following the incident, and wishes she was updated more frequently. "You just don't know how this makes me feel," she said.