[T]wo life-jacket wearing sailors have been dramatically rescued by a passing Wind Farm support vessel from the bow of their 26ft capsized trimaran off Walney Island earlier this morning.
At around 9.50am today (21 June) the Trimaran had started taking on water and the two crew onboard had managed to put out a VHF Radio Mayday broadcast and a 999 call which was picked up by HM Coastguard Holyhead and Belfast.
The two men had their lifejackets on and it was a short while later that the vessel capsized leaving the two crewman to scramble onboard the hull of the sinking vessel.
HM Coastguard Caernarfon search and rescue helicopter was sent to the scene, alongside Barrow RNLI all weather lifeboat and the Walney Island Coastguard Rescue Team.
A Mayday relay broadcast was issued by HM Coastguard Holyhead requesting any vessels in the area to assist. A Wind Farm support vessel responded to the broadcast and made its way to the sinking vessel just in time to pluck the two men from the water who were holding onto the bow.
Barrow lifeboat crew was paged and the all weather lifeboat, ‘Grace Dixon’, was launched at 10:03am under the command of Coxswain, Shaun Charnley, assisted by a crew of six. A further four volunteer crew members responded to the call-out.
The distress call from the Trimaran had also alerted other vessels in the area with up to seven vessels standing by at one stage. The lifeboat proceeded to the scene and the Coastguard Helicopter, Rescue 936, was also tasked to attend.
In the meantime, a guard vessel working at the offshore windfarms off Walney Island, the ‘Fairline Surveyor’, was able to get close enough to the sinking vessel and retrieve the two crew of the trimaran from the water. The casualties were then assessed on board the ‘Fairline Surveyor’ and both were uninjured. They were then airlifted from the vessel to Walney Airfield by Rescue 936 which was deemed to be safer than attempting to transfer the casualties to the lifeboat in the difficult sea conditions.
The two crewman, were thankfully safe and well and in good spirits despite their frightening ordeal. Due to the choppy weather on scene, the two men were winched onboard the Coastguard helicopter and taken to shore. Steve Thomas, Winchman said: ‘This was an excellent effort by everyone on scene. The Wind Farm support vessel crew did an incredible job to rescue the two men and make them comfortable as we arrived. They were very professional and also assisted us with the hi-line winch which saved valuable time in getting these two men safely to shore. An impressive job all-round.’
The Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) and the Receiver of Wreck have been informed, as well as the MCA’s counter pollution team.
HM Coastguard Senior Maritime Operations Officer Robert Bowyer said: “This incident happened so quickly that the casualties on the capsized vessel had only just managed to put out a Mayday broadcast and a 999 call. Thankfully they were wearing their life-jackets and a nearby vessel was able to assist them straight away. We’re delighted that in this situation the crew were rescued safely.”
Furness Coastguard was called to attend at Walney Airfield where they collected the two casualties and took them to the Lifeboat Station. The crew of the lifeboat were then able to reunite the casualties with some of their possessions that had been passed to them from the ‘Fairline Surveyor’.
The ‘Grace Dixon’ returned to the lifeboat station at 12:25pm where it was made ready for the next launch.
The wind at the time of the incident was north-westerly, Force 6-7.
Safety advice – when heading out to sea you should always make sure you have a means of alerting us if you get into difficulty. We can never get time back, speed is of the utmost importance – don’t wait for things to improve. You need to inform us as soon as a potentially difficult situation is developing – once things start to go wrong, they can develop rapidly. Always carry a means of alerting the coastguard if you get into difficulty.
HM Coastguard recommend your vessel has an EPIRB and a fitted Digital Selective Calling (DSC) VHF radio, a fully charged mobile phone, flares, powerful torch, a personal locator beacon and appropriate personal floatation devices such as a lifejacket or buoyancy aid at all times whilst on deck. VHF coverage along the coast is generally much better. If you get into difficulty use channel 16 to alert the coastguard to your position. When you make an emergency call to the coastguard from VHF radio you will tell everyone within range what your situation is even if you cannot see them – there might be someone nearby who can help you more quickly. If you are at sea and only have a mobile phone you will only be able to speak to the person you are making the call to. If mobile network coverage is poor then you might not be able to make a mobile call at all. If you have got a signal call 999 and ask for the coastguard.
For remote locations, consider carrying a 406 personal locator beacon to raise the alarm. Maintain your safety equipment, cutting costs will not help you in an emergency.
HM coastguard is also happy to receive radio checks from vessels if they wish to check their equipment before heading out to sea. You should always have a plan on board for ‘what if?’ and make sure everybody on board knows their part within the plan. In this case, the vessel’s EPIRB alerted HM coastguard and the nearby vessel responded quickly was able get these two casualties safely rescued.