The fishing-vessel approached and Kapitänleutnant Loewe, who spoke good English, asked for rescue. Martin refused. In a later newspaper interview he stated the nine crew of the King Stephen were unarmed and badly outnumbered, and would have little chance of resisting the German airmen if, after being rescued, they hijacked his vessel and sailed it to Germany An alternative explanation for his action, suggested by a 2005 BBC documentary on the incident, is that the King Stephen was in a zone in which fishing was prohibited by the British authorities, and that Martin feared that if he returned to a British port with a large number of German prisoners, attention might have been drawn to this and he would have been banned from fishing. Ignoring the Germans' pleas for help, promises of good conduct and even offers of money, Martin sailed King Stephen away. He later said he intended to search for a Royal Navy ship to report his discovery to. However, he met none and the encounter with the L.19 was only reported to the British authorities on his return to the King Stephen's home-port of Grimsby.
The weather was worsening as the King Stephen departed and the Zeppelin remained afloat for only a few hours. During this time, the L.19's crew threw a bottle with messages into the sea. Discovered six months later by Swedish fishermen at Marstrand, the bottle contained personal last messages from the airmen to their families and a final report from Loewe
With fifteen men on the top platform and backbone girder of the L 19, floating without gondolas in approximately 3 degrees East longitude, I am attempting to send a last report. Engine trouble three times repeated, a light wind on the return journey delayed our return and, in the mist, carried us over Holland where I was received with heavy rifle fire; the ship became heavy and simultaneously three engines broke down. 2 February 1916, towards one o'clock, will apparently be our last hour.