SDFRC DECEMBER ISSUE 1971          - 2 -

         A frightening experience befell RNI on the morning of Monday November 22nd.
         At 06.50 GMT the anchor chain snapped under the pressure of a force 11
         north-west storm which had been battering the Mebo II for the previous
         32 hours, they found themselves adrift and being driven towards the beaches
         of Holland. All the crew including the DJ's were awakened and told to
         assemble on the bridge. Captain Hardefeld had already broadcast a Mayday
         message to Scheveningen radio on the shipptin frequency. At 07.20 GMT
         programmes ceased from RNI with a further distress call being put out
         by Leo van de Groot (the reason why broadcasting had to stop was that by
         this time RNI had drifted within Dutch territorial waters).

         Just before 08.00 GMT a lifeboat called the "Bernard van Leer" came
         alongside the radioship, but owing to the rough seas it could not remain
         alongside for long. At this time a Lockheed Neptune Maritime Reconnaissance
         aircraft, serial number "211", from Valkenburg air base arrived overhead.
         Attempts were made to start the engines and turn the Mebo II into
         the wind; this operation took one hour to complete. With the coast and
         sandbanks looming ahead, the fear of being beached was in everybody's
         mind - as this would have meant the end for RNI. Captain Hardefeld
         and his crew managed eventually to turn the bow into the storm and slowly
         brought the Mebo towards the open sea. The crew put down one of the
         spare anchors in the hope of holding the boat in one position, but this
         proved unsuccessful - the sea was too rough and the anchor had to be cut.

         Scheveningen radio then informed them that if the need arose to abandon
         ship a helicopter was standing by. The only hope of saving the ship was
         the assistance of a powerful tug which, they had been told, was on its
         way from Rotterdam. The ship at this point had drifted almost three miles
         from its original position. The tug "Smith Bank" came into sight at
         13.45 GMT and the process of securing a tow line was soon underway; she
         then proceeded to tow them to their anchorage four miles off the coast
         of Scheveningen. Medium-wave broadcasting was resumed at 15.30 GMT, but
         the 49 metre transmitter was silent due to its antenna having been damaged.
         Upon arriving back off Scheveningen, the storm which had been abating
         suddenly freshened and it was decided to take the Mebo II out to sea once
         more to ride out the remainder of the gale. Listners who tuned in that
         night to Brian McKenzie's "North Sea By Night" programme were astonished
         to hear the ships position being given as 50 miles from the Dutch Coast.

         Instead of closing down at 02.00 GMT on Tuesday morning, broadcasting
         continued nonstop. This enabled the management in Zurich to keep in
         touch with the constantly changing situation. At 15.00 GMT on Tuesday
         afternoon an ocean-going tug, the "Thames" relieved the smaller "Smith
         Bank" and this tug was either towing or in attendance until late on
         Wednesday when the new heavy anchor arrived aboard the Mebo II. She
         was, of course, by this time once again four miles off Scheveningen.
         Thus ended yet another dramatic incident in the life of Radio Nordzee
         International. Mercifully there were no injuries or loss of life but
         it could so easily have ended in tragedy.

         Radio and press coverage of this event was sporadic to say the least.
         On the Monday BBC Radio Four newscasts at 8am and 1pm included brief
         details, unlike Robbie Dale on Hilversum III who during his afternoon
         show played records for the boys on RNI and kept his listeners up to
         date with the latest rescue news. Congratulations Robbi - you did a
         grand job! It is interesting to note that when RNI resumed broadcasting
         later that afternoon one of their Dutch DJ's publicly thanked Robbie over
         the air. Both the "Evening Standard" and the "Evening News" carried
         short items, but pride of place must go to our Southend "Evening Echo"
         who not only printed the latest news but also a photograph of the Mebo II.
         The following day (Tuesday) saw minute pieces in the "Daily Telegraph"
         and "The Times".

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