Royal Navy ready to assist sinking trawler
A Royal Navy helicopter on a training flight stood ready to act as a trawler crew abandoned their sinking boat off the coast of Cornwall yesterday evening.
Sennen Lifeboat rescued the crew-of-four as their Belgian fishing boat rapidly sank beneath the waves south of Land’s End.
The alarm was raised at around 6pm by the trawler’s skipper. Operating in Mount’s Bay was a Merlin Mk2 helicopter based at RNAS Culdrose.
Lt Cdr Steve Thomas, the senior pilot of 824 Naval Air Squadron, said: “We were conducting an initial training sortie for a student observer, focusing on the operation of the helicopter’s radar and mission system.
“We were alerted to the incident in progress and dialled up the distress Channel 16 to hear Falmouth Coastguard coordinating the effort to reach a fishing vessel not far off the coast, south of Land’s End.
“Sennen Lifeboat was reaching the scene at that point and it was clear that the fishing vessel was in a poor way. The Belgian skipper was on the radio to the lifeboat and was being encouraged to get himself and his three crew into their life raft as the vessel was sinking rapidly.
“At the time we were about 15 miles away to the south east in Mounts Bay. Cognisant that [the coastguard helicopter] Rescue 924 was enroute but had not yet arrived, I informed Falmouth Coastguard that we were proceeding to the scene and available for tasking if required.
“When in the overhead, we monitored what was happening but there was not a great deal for us to do – the crew were now in their life raft and Sennen Lifeboat was collecting them. We witnessed the fishing vessel continue to rapidly sink. It became clear that the brave men and women of the RNLI had everything under control.
“There was good cooperation and we were able to provide overwatch in case things did not go well for the crew when abandoning ship. We called Falmouth Coastguard to explain we were leaving the scene, but could be recalled if required. We then completed the remainder of our planned sortie.”