Heart attack on board
The five head slowly out of IJmuiden harbor with the evening sun still above the horizon and no sign of any waves. It looks like a straightforward exercise. Then skipper Leendert Langbroek suddenly opens the throttle. He has spotted a freighter in the distance. He gives the two mtu
engines a good workout and heads towards the cargo vessel at 33 knots full speed. But it is by no means noisy on the bridge. "Even when I go flat out, it is 20 decibels quieter here on the Nh 1816 than on the Koos van Messel," recounts Leendert Langbroek. Ton Haasnoot, who is responsible for communication today, finds the name of the freighter – it is the Thorco Copenhagen. He radios the freighter captain to inform him what the crew of the Nh 1816 is planning. They draw up very close to the cargo vessel and sail slowly alongside her. A couple of centimeters is all that separates the Nh 1816 from the Thorco Copenhagen. "That's the skill of our skipper," says Ton Haasnoot before going on to explain what this exercise is about. "From this distance, our crew can board the freighter so as to provide first aid if necessary." That has happened on many occasions. He remembers an emergency call-out when a captain of a freighter had suddenly been struck down by severe chest pains. Skipper Leendert Langbroek and his crew arrived just in time to save him. He had suffered a serious heart attack and survived only thanks to the assistance of the KNRM.
The Nh 1816 continues on its way. When the shore is almost out of sight and the evening sun creates a spectacular reflection on the calm waters, it is time for the next drill. Jaap van der Laan and Bas Tol go out on deck ready to jump overboard. The excitement and anticipation are written all over their faces. Without hesitating, they jump into the ice-cold North Sea. They appear blissfully unbothered by the temperature thanks to their special suits. In fact, they start to wave cheerily as if enjoying a seaside swim. Skipper Leendert Langbroek pulls a couple of quick turns around the pair so that the waves disappear in the center of the circle. At the same time, Ton Haachoot pulls on his rescue suit. He has to save the pair but seems to be calmness personified. "More haste, less speed," he says calmly as he puts on his hat. Then it is time. With practiced skill, he lowers the stretcher over the bow of the ship and throws the two swimmers a line. Jaap van der Laan is the first to grab hold of it. He pulls himself up to the lifeboat and reaches out for Ton Haasnoot's hand. Now you can see the strain on his face after all. He pulls his colleague onto the stretcher and hauls it up slowly. Jaap van der Laan jumps up with a smile, shakes himself down briefly and then watches as his colleague pulls Bas Tol out of the water as well.