A fishing vessel in danger of sinking was assisted by a Tynemouth RNLI lifeboat earlier today.
The skipper of the trawler Charisma made a distress call to the UK Coastguard at 11.20am after his boat started taking on water, which also disabled his engine.
The two fishermen on board stemmed the water ingress but could not restart the engine – leaving the vessel with its nets still in the water, drifting 12 nautical miles south east of the Tyne piers.
After it was paged by the UK Coastguard’s Humber Operations Centre, Tynemouth RNLI launched its all-weather lifeboat seven minutes later, making best speed to the 9.9m, 15-tonne North Shields-based Charisma.
Due to the risk that the vessel could sink, a Coastguard Rescue Helicopter from Humberside was also tasked. Sea conditions were good, with only a moderate breeze.
The lifeboat reached the stranded fishing boat at 11.58am and the volunteer crew assessed the situation.
Two of the crew boarded the vessel and the lifeboat’s portable salvage pump was passed across to them.
They pumped the seawater out of the Charisma and found that there was no more water entering her.
As there was little risk of the boat sinking, the Coastguard Rescue Helicopter was stood down while still en-route.
The fishing vessel was now out of immediate danger, but the lifeboat was unable to tow her and her crew to safety while her nets were in the water, so the lifeboat crew and fishermen attempted to retrieve them by getting power to the fishing boat’s winch.
The nets were brought back onto the Charisma at 1pm and the fishermen had managed to restart their engine as a result of attempting to get power to the winch, so instead of towing the trawler, the lifeboat escorted it back to North Shields as a precaution against it taking on water or the engine stopping again.
The lifeboat and Charisma arrived safely at North Shields Fish Quay at 3.05pm and once the fishing boat was on the quay, the lifeboat refuelled and returned to station, arriving at 3.35pm.
Tynemouth RNLI spokesman Adrian Don said: “Initially it was thought that the Charisma could sink and the first priority was to get to the two fishermen on board as fast as possible, so our all-weather lifeboat and a Coastguard Rescue Helicopter were tasked by UK Coastguard as a matter of urgency.
“Thankfully, the fishermen stopped the water leak and got their engine restarted, but were still 12 miles out at sea and at risk of becoming stranded again.
“Our volunteer lifeboat crew members used their training, experience and teamwork to make sure the situation got no worse and to help the fishing boat return to safety.”
The offshore support vessel Highland Prestige was nearby and stood by the Charisma, ready to assist if the situation worsened.