A fishing crew had to be rescued when their ship started sinking off the coast of Sunderland.
Lifeboat volunteers based at Tynemouth and Sunderland Royal National Lifeboat Institute (RNLI) stations were called into action yesterday afternoon as part of a rescue operation to save a 7m fishing boat and its eight crew after it started sinking 1 mile off Seaburn, Sunderland.
A major search operation was started just after 3:45pm after the crew onboard issued a ‘Mayday’ distress message stating that their boat was holed and taking on water fast. This information was received by Humber Coastguard who then co-ordinated the search operation.
Tynemouth RNLI all weather lifeboat was returning to the Tyne after a training exercise with a Coastguard rescue helicopter when the volunteer crew overheard the distress radio call and were heading back out to sea when they were tasked to assist the stricken anglers, along with Sunderland RNLI lifeboat.
The rescue helicopter also returned to the area. A rescue water craft was also dispatched from Roker RNLI beach lifeguard unit and Sunderland Coastguard Rescue Team were tasked to assist from shore. A number of other angling boats and a sail training vessel that had been nearby kept watch over the anglers until the lifeboats arrived.
After getting to the scene as fast as possible the Tynemouth lifeboat crew found the anglers desperately trying to bale the water out from their boat and immediately evacuated them onto the lifeboat as the Sunderland lifeboat arrived. Crew members from both lifeboats went onboard the boat to set up water pumps in an attempt to stabilise the water ingress. After about 30 minutes it was decided that the boat was stable enough to be towed back to Sunderland by Tynemouth lifeboat while the volunteers continued pumping water out of the boat.
On arrival at Sunderland harbour it was agreed with the Harbour Master to beach the boat on North Sands near The Glass Centre. The anglers were transferred to safety on dry land from the Tynemouth lifeboat by Sunderland RNLI's inshore lifeboat that had now also joined the rescue effort.
Adrian Don, spokesman for Tynemouth RNLI lifeboat station said: "This was an excellent team effort from everyone involved. There is no doubt that without the intervention of our volunteer crews the anglers would have been in serious danger of going into the sea as their boat would have sunk in a short time and unfortunately they only had three lifejackets between the eight people.
"We are all grateful for the support given by the local boating community who responded to the initial distress message to offer their support until our crews arrived.
"The RNLI aims to half drownings in the UK by 2024 and is promoting water safety through the Respect The Water campaign. Comprehensive water safety advice can be found at rnli.org/respectthewater."