Today, most Bahamians know little about the incident, which traumatised the country for months. And the eight Cuban fishermen who started it all were convicted of poaching in July,
The Flamingo Incident was a nation building exercise which legitimized the need for a Defence Force in the minds of Bahamians at last. It proceeded to do what Hmbs flamingo Bahamian politician was able to do before.
This instance of widespread national shock helped Bahamians to grasp the idea of sovereignty and independence and brought out the first instance of patriotism to the Bahamian flag. He and his 18 crew members had been tasked with stemming poaching in this particular quadrant. All remained quiet until about The crew of the two vessels tried to escape in a southwesterly direction.
They gained on the vessels and finally caught up with them at about a mile from the Cay. The fishing vessels maintained their course and speed, even after orders to stop were passed to them over the loud hailer and warning shots fired in the air and then across the bow of their vessels.
The vessels were both boarded and searched by the HMBS Flamingo boarding team and the four Cuban males that were found onboard each of the craft were arrested and the large quantity of fish found on-board the two vessels were confiscated.
The two vessels, Ferrocem and Ferrocem 54, were taken into tow. No one was hurt and it was assumed that the exercise was aimed at frightening them to release the captured fishermen. Willing to take no risks though, Commander Rolle ordered his Hmbs flamingo to hoist a second ensign and a Bahamian flag.
With perfect weather, there would be no way that the pilots in their low flying jets could mistake the identity of the Flamingo or that they were in the territorial waters of The Bahamas. About forty five minutes later the jets returned. The Flamingo was less than 1.
This time, the patrol craft was hit. The Operations room filled with water and rendered all communication equipment down. The bridge burst into flames.
Even as the ship sank and the crew attempted to swim to safety, the jets returned, strafing the surrounding waters with machine gun fire and tearing apart the two lifeboats that had been jettisoned overboard. Though the jets disappeared, a military helicopter remained in the area.
This was no match for their menacing machine chaperone hovering above. Thankfully, the helicopter left after the Flamingo had completely sunk. A search of the area for the four missing men ensued, in lifeboats, to no avail.
All persons were then transferred to the Ferrocem and they departed the area under the cloak of darkness to find cover at Ragged Island. The other vessel, Ferrocem 54 was left drifting as the Engine was shot out. The remaining crew took turns smoking cigarettes as a means of light with which to navigate in a darkened ship state.
This proved to be a wise decision, as the Cubans returned, in hopes of leaving no survivors and rescuing their own. The Bahamian crew and their prisoners arrived at the Bay of Anchorage at the southern tip of Ragged Island at on Sunday morning and proceeded to Duncan Town on foot.
Telegraphs were sent to Nassau informing about the tragedy and bold attacks by the Cubans. The Cuban jet fighters returned at on Sunday 11 May along with a large long range transport aircraft and a helicopter in Duncan Town.
They simulated rocket attacks over the island and at one point, the helicopter landed on the island opposite where the Cuban fishing vessel was anchored, tearing off roof shingles and tree branches in the process. The men got out of the helicopter, armed with guns and looked around their immediate area.
The Cuban helicopter and transport aircraft continued their assault by flying on alternate sides of a Bahamian DC 3 aircraft, carrying fully uniformed Defence Force and Police force officials, as it landed on Ragged Island.
The MiGs withdrew at hours with the helicopter. The other aircraft followed suit 2 hours and 15 minutes later, thus preventing the DC 3 from taking off before noon. The small island community had been harassed for over three hours. Then on Monday 12 May at p.
It remained in the vicinity for about 15 minutes. In 3 separate and deliberate acts of military aggression, the Cubans had demonstrated their lack of respect for the puerile archipelagic nation.
The brave survivors through numerous interviews recall how they were still picking melting steel from their skin and hair many months later from the rocket blasts.
They unanimously agree that the traumatic happenings were a frightful reminder of the frailty of life and the dangers associated with the career they had chosen.
Upon their return to Nassau, Commander Rolle was summoned to an emergency National Security meeting where he would describe the events before Acting Prime Minister Arthur Hanna and other top government officials.
Outraged when he was informed about the atrocious attack, he cancelled his trip and made plans to return to The Bahamas immediately.It was the day when Cuban jets viciously and mercilessly attacked the HMBS Flamingo in Bahamian waters after the crew of two Cuban fishing vessels was apprehended for poaching.
It was the day he nearly lost his life.
HMBS Flamingo eventually sunk in waters 35 miles south of Ragged Island. Fifteen of the 19 crewmembers survived by escaping to Ragged Island aboard one of the captured crafts they arrested. Missing in action and presumed dead were Able Seaman Fenrick Sturrup, and Marine Seaman Austin Smith, David Tucker and Edward Williams.
Cuba agreed to pay $10 million in reparations for the sinking of HMBS Flamingo and the murder of the four marines - Fenrick Sturrup, Austin Smith, David Tucker and Edward Williams.
And the eight Cuban fishermen who started it all were convicted of poaching in July, The Flamingo Incident, also known as the Cuban Incident, the Cay Santo Domingo Incident, or the Sinking of HMBS Flamingo, occurred on 10 May , just under six weeks of .
May 15, · Cuba agreed to pay $10 million in reparations for the sinking of HMBS Flamingo and the murder of the four marines – Fenrick Sturrup, Austin Smith, David Tucker and Edward Williams.
10th May HMBS Flamingo Sinking Remembered. The Foreign Ministers of the Caricom region in their annual meeting being held in Kingstown in St Vincent and the Grenadines took note of the anniversary of the sinking of the HMBS Flamingo on 10 May