A lifeboat crew have set a record for the longest rescue in the RNLI’s history – running low on fuel in the process.
Volunteers at Tynemouth RNLI All-weather lifeboat spent 19 hours at sea in a dramatic rescue after a former fishing vessel started taking in water 110-miles off the north east coastline.
The alarm was raised at 6am on Tuesday, June 23, by the lone skipper of the Louise Thomsen, a decommissioned Danish trawler which he was sailing singlehanded from Denmark to Sunderland.
Humber Coastguard launched their rescue helicopter where on arrival a crewman was winched down along with a pump to stem the water ingress.
The helicopter remained on station for an hour assisting the skipper in pumping the water out before it returned to base, with Tynemouth RNLI lifeboat being launched at 9.30am to help tow the vessel back.
But four-and-a-half hours later the rescue took a dramatic twist when the lifeboat arrived at the scene but there was no trace of the Louise Thomsen.
The skipper of the fishing boat is safe and our volunteer crew members have now all gone off to bed for a well-deserved restAdrian Don, spokesman for Tynemouth RNLI lifeboat station
The crew started a search and Humber Coastguard tasked the helicopter back to the scene who were able to contact the vessel by radio and get his new position – 30 miles south of where they expected it to be.
Arriving on scene an hour later, the lifeboat Coxswain assessed the situation and decided to tow the vessel back to safety and place a crew member on board to assist the skipper.
Sea conditions were poor and the lifeboat crew had to launch the small inflatable Y-class lifeboat carried on board the all weather lifeboat to transfer the crewman to the trawler.
The lifeboat then took 12 hours to tow the Louise Thomsen back to Sunderland Fish Quay, before it returned back to the Tyne, with the crew arriving at 4.30am on Wednesday, June 24.
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.
“110 nautical miles is the furthest out to sea any RNLI lifeboat has been on a ‘shout’ and was the very edge of our Severn class lifeboat’s range which is limited by the amount of fuel she carries, with just 800 litres of fuel remaining, which is enough for just 90 minutes steaming at full speed.
“The previous record distance was 98nm, set by the Valencia RNLI lifeboat in 1985
“The skipper of the fishing boat is safe and our volunteer crew members have now all gone off to bed for a well-deserved rest.”