On May 29, 2013, a Nigerian cook named Harrison Odjegba Okene was rescued after being trapped in an upended tugboat at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.
Buried at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, 100 feet down, in an upended tugboat for three days, Harrison Odjegba Okene begged God for a miracle.
He survived because there was a supply of oxygen in an air pocket in the tug boat and because he had faith in God.
A Call To God And Then Rescue
As the temperature dropped to freezing, Okene, dressed only in boxer shorts, recited the last psalm his wife had sent by text message.
Save me, O God, by your name; vindicate me by your might. 2 Hear my prayer, O God; listen to the words of my mouth. 3 Strangers are attacking me; ruthless men seek my life– men without regard for God. "Selah" 4 Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me. 5 Let evil recoil on those who slander me; in your faithfulness destroy them. 6 I will sacrifice a freewill offering to you; I will praise your name, O LORD, for it is good. 7 For he has delivered me from all my troubles, and my eyes have looked in triumph on my foes.
Okene sincerely believes that his rescue from a depth of around 100 feet is a sign of divine deliverance.
The other eleven seaman aboard the Jascon 4 all died.
Only Bodies And Not Survivors Were Being Sought
According to Tony Walker, project manager for Dutch company DCN Diving, his divers were called to the scene because they were working on a neighboring oil field seventy five miles away.
The divers had already located and pulled up four bodies so when a hand appeared on the TV screen that Walker was monitoring in the rescue boat, it was assumed to be another body.
Walker was seeing what the diver saw.
Grabbed By A Dead Man!
"The diver acknowledged that he had seen the hand and then, when he went to grab the hand, the hand grabbed him! It was frightening for everybody. For the guy that was trapped because he didn’t know what was happening. And it was a shock for the diver while he was down there looking for bodies, and we in the control room shot back when the hand grabbed him on the screen".
Walker said in a telephone interview Tuesday.
On the video, there’s a definite exclamation of fear and shock from Okene’s rescuer, followed by joy as the realization sets in.
Okene recalls hearing:
"There’s a survivor! He’s alive".
The End Was Nigh!
Walker said Okene couldn’t have lasted much longer.
"He was incredibly lucky he was in an air pocket but he would have had a limited time, until he wouldn’t be able to breathe anymore".
This full video of the rescue that was captured by divers was released by DCN Diving following a request from AP.
I was super impressed by the way that Walker, who sounds like an Australian, talked Harrison calmly through the whole thing!
He was always an early riser, and he was in the toilet when the tug, one of three towing an oil tanker in Nigeria’s oil-rich Delta waters, gave a sudden lurch and then keeled over.
"I was dazed and everywhere was dark as I was thrown from one end of the small cubicle to another",
He groped his way out of the toilet and tried to find a vent, propping doors open as he moved on.
He then discovered some tools and a life vest with two flashlights, which he stuffed into his shorts.
He finally found a cabin of the sunken vessel that felt safe, and began the long wait, getting colder and colder as he played back a mental tape of his life:
Remembering his mother.
But mostly his wife that he’d married five years before.
He worried about his colleagues, ten Nigerians and the Ukrainian captain as well as four young cadets from Nigeria’s Maritime Academy.
The cadets would have locked themselves into their cabins, which is standard operating procedure, when in an area stalked by pirates.
By the time he was saved, relatives already had been told that he was dead!
Faith In God
Okene kept faith with the psalm he recited, that promises to "give thanks in your name, Lord".