Lifeboat rescue takes a dramatic turn after crew unable to find stricken vessel

Tynemouth RNLI Severn class all weather lifeboat Spirit of Northumberland.  Picture by Adrian Don/RNLI
Tynemouth RNLI Severn class all weather lifeboat Spirit of Northumberland. Picture by Adrian Don/RNLI

A sea rescue 110 miles off the north east coast has taken a dramatic turn when lifeboat crews were unable to find the stricken boat.

Volunteers from Tynemouth RNLI lifeboat were called out just after 9am today (Tuesday) when a boat started taking in water.

The rescue effort took a dramatic turn for the worse when the Louise Thomsen wasn’t in her expected position but the rescue crews followed their extensive training and located her quickly

Adrian Don, spokesman for Tynemouth RNLI lifeboat station

The alarm was raised at 6am by the lone skipper of the Louise Thomsen, a decommissioned Danish trawler which he was sailing from Denmark to Sunderland.

Humber Coastguard immediately tasked Coastguard rescue helicopter 912 from Humberside airport which raced to the stricken vessel.

The helicopter crew lowered their winchman down with a pump which was used to stem the water ingress.

The helicopter remained on scene for an hour assisting the skipper in pumping the vessel out, which had anchored its position after the engine failed.

Tynemouth RNLI all weather lifeboat was launched at 9.30am – with six crew embarking on the longest distance search the lifeboat has ever carried out.

The crew arrived on scene four-and-a-half hours later but could not find any trace of the Louise Thomsen.

As the Coastguard helicopter was dispatched again, a crewman was able to contact the vessel’s skipper and get his new position – more than 30 miles south of where the lifeboat expected it.

They eventually reached it at 4pm and have begun towing the vessel back to Sunderland harbour, expected to arrive at 3am tomorrow.

Adrian Don, spokesman for Tynemouth RNLI lifeboat station, said: “This rescue operation has seen the lifeboat and helicopter crews working together under the coordination of Humber Coastguard, with the RAF also assisting.

“The rescue effort took a dramatic turn for the worse when the Louise Thomsen wasn’t in her expected position but the rescue crews followed their extensive training and located her quickly.

“This is the furthest out to sea any RNLI lifeboat has been on service and is at the very edge of our Severn class lifeboat’s range which is limited by the amount of fuel she carries.

“The operation is ongoing and our volunteer crew members won’t be seeing any rest until Wednesday morning but I doubt any of them will mind as they have done a fantastic job, as has everyone else involved.”