SPAIN (KGO) --The crew members were all on board the Panamanian cargo ship the Modern Express en route from Africa to France. Around 150 miles off the coast of northern Spain, the boat ran into trouble on Tuesday as strong winds and waves battered it repeatedly.
The freighter was caught at a 40 degree angle about as steep as a double black diamond ski slope. One wrong move and the sailors could have slipped into the crashing waves below.
Crew members sent out a distress signal requesting evacuation. The Spanish coast guard helicoptered in, repelled down to the deck of the ship and then successfully hoisted all 22 sailors from the ship.
The Spanish search and rescue crews say the rescue was complicated not just by the wind and rough seas, but also the incredible distance from land. The sailors were obviously relieved as they safely made it into the helicopter and eventually back to land.
The abandoned ship has since drifted into French waters and a towing vessel is en route to retrieve it. The Modern Express reportedly is loaded with 3600 tons of wood and construction equipment.