A TOTAL of 18 people were rescued in four incidents responded to by Tynemouth RNLI lifeboat volunteers last Saturday.
In the first, three trawlermen were rescued when their fishing vessel Green Pastures suffered an engine fire 23 miles out to sea.
The Tynemouth all-weather lifeboat was called and towed them to safety at Blyth harbour.
While there the lifeboat and six volunteer crew received a call to help search for a small powerboat whose automatic distress calling system had been activated, somewhere in a 30-mile area between Sunderland and Newbiggin.
Tynemouth inshore lifeboat Mark Noble was also launched to help with the search and was joined by three other lifeboats from Sunderland and Cullercoats, an RAF helicopter and two shore-based coastguard rescue teams.
After searching for three hours Humber Coastguard was satisfied the distress signal had been activated in error and all search units were stood down.
As Tynemouth’s all-weather lifeboat returned from the Blyth area to the Tyne at around 5pm, the crew was tasked to assist the sail training yacht James Cook, which had suffered mechanical difficulties off Whitley Bay.
The vessel, with 15 school age sailing trainees on board, was quickly towed to safety at Royal Quays Marina in North Shields.
Tynemouth RNLI spokesman Adrian Don said: “It was an incredibly busy and demanding day for the lifeboat station.
“During the summer months our crews are occasionally called out twice in one day but this has been unprecedented.
“Our all-weather lifeboat Spirit of Northumberland was at sea for eight solid hours, tasked to three separate incidents.
“Our inshore lifeboat was also launched to join the search for the automated distress signal which involved five RNLI lifeboats, an RAF helicopter and two coastguard shore crews.
“Unfortunately that seems to have been a false alarm but we treat every distress call as genuine and a comprehensive search was carried out.”