Fishing boat crew members rescued after vessel sinks off coast

An HM Coastguard rescue helicopter from Shetland and a Norwegian rescue helicopter were scrambled and the Lerwick RNLI lifeboat was launched. 

Coastguard rescue eight fishing boat crew members after distress alert off Shetland coast iStock

Coastguard rescuers were called after a fishing boat sunk off the coast of Shetland on early on Sunday morning.

On Sunday March 24, a 27-metre fishing vessel, 36 nautical miles east of Bressay, which was carrying eight crew members sent a distress signal after it sunk.

RNLI’s Lerwick lifeboat was launched at 5am to aid in the rescue operation alongside the coastguard.

An HM Coastguard rescue helicopter from Shetland and a Norwegian rescue helicopter were also scrambled.

Lerwick lifeboat crew recovered floating debris from the scene of the sinking, including a liferaft and a 'hi-line' rope used for helicopter lifting operationsRNLI

The coastguard said that several vessels in the area also offered their assistance.

Lerwick lifeboat launched and made good speed to the scene, despite rough seas, the RNLI said. 

The fishing vessel had reportedly taken in a quantity of water at the stern and sank quickly. 

Before the eight crew on board abandoned their vessel, they had time to activate their ‘DSC’ maritime distress signal, giving their exact location. 

The eight crew were lifted from their life rafts by the rescue helicopter and taken to Sumburgh airport where they were checked over and were reported to be well.

Lifeboat crew searched the area and recovered floating debris from the surface before it returned to Lerwick harbour around 10am, and was refuelled and made ready for service again. 

Stephen Manson, Lerwick lifeboat Coxswain said: “We’re pleased that all crew were safely recovered by helicopter, given the cold sea temperature and rough sea conditions. 

“The fishing vessel was well equipped and their distress beacon gave their exact location for the rescue response. Our volunteer crew are always able to respond to any request to launch for vessels in distress.”

An HM Coastguard spokesperson said:

Max Rimington for HM Coastguard says: “The fishing vessel crew made their initial call from a DSC radio before all communications were lost with the vessel.

“Following that, an alert was received from their emergency position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB) by the Coastguard.

“These two methods of communication meant that we knew exactly where the fishermen were and were able to send rescue assets to their location without the need for a protracted search.

“The beacon and DSC, alongside their liferaft undoubtedly led us to recovering all of the fishermen safely.”

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