Irish sea after 17 FOOT wave almost sinks his boat
- Helicopter, lifeboat and 3,500 tonne Royal Navy ship called to save crewman
- French fisherman showed signs of hypothermia and was winched to safety
- Rescue team struggled in the sea with 17ft waves threatening to sink boat
By SARA MALM
An injured fisherman caught in bad weather on the Irish Sea has to be winched to safety as the 17ft waves threatened to sink his boat.
Due to the rough sea, a 3,500 tonne Royal Navy vessel had to be called in to provide shelter as the rescue team struggled to get to the French fisherman in time.
The coastguard had already scrambled both an RAF search and rescue helicopter and an RNLI lifeboat to rescue the fisherman, but weather conditions were deteriorating fast.
Royal Navy Hydrographic survey vessel, HMS Echo, was carrying out maritime security operations when she received a request for assistance from Milford Haven Coastguard.
The 17-ft high swell meant it was not possible to lower a winchman safely onto the vessel’s deck and assist the fisherman who was showing signs of hypothermia.
Once Echo was called in the 3,500 tonne ship attempted to provide some shelter for the RNLI lifeboat to get alongside the French fishing vessel, Alf, but once again the weather prevented a rescue.
This left them with no choice but to escort the fishing vessel closer inland before the helicopter was able to winch the injured fisherman to safety.
Dangerous mission: A gigantic wave nearly swallows the boat as the RAF helicopter hovers nearby to save the French fisherman
Distress call: The helicopter closes in on the French fishing boat as it is battered in the rough waves
With 59 crew members on board, HMS Echo was fortunate to have Gunnery Officer, Lieutenant Adam Butler, among the Ship's Company.
Lt Butler studied French at University College London before joining the Royal Navy and was able to translate what the French crew were saying.
Lt Butler said: ‘It’s not often that I get to use my language skills in my current job, but this was a refreshing change.
‘I'm just pleased we were able to assist another mariner in his time of need.’
Search and rescue: The rough sea meant a tricky operation which saw 3,500 tonne HMS Echo called in to provide shelter for the RNLI lifeboat
Lt Cdr Karen Fyfe, HMS Echo's Executive Officer, added: ‘The safety of life at sea remains the responsibility of every mariner - HMS Echo was the right ship, in the right place, at the right time.
‘We have the expertise onboard to enable the ship's company to make an immediate impact on the lives of those unfortunate enough to have been caught up in the incident on the fishing vessel.
‘I am pleased that we were able to provide valuable and timely support to fellow mariners.
‘This is what our people in the Royal Navy are trained to do, and do well.’
However, this was not the only incident where French fishermen found themselves in trouble on the Irish Sea.
Brave: Wicklow RNLI arrive to rescuing four fishermen on a French-registered trawler after their vessel got into difficulty on the Irish Sea in the early hours of the morning
Four fishermen on a French-registered trawler were rescued after they suffered engine failure 2.5 miles east of Wicklow Head, shortly after 3am in the morning.
Despite a force nine gale, torrential rain and a 10ft-13ft breaking swell, Wicklow RNLI responded and towed the boat to Wicklow Harbour.
The 85ft 120-tonne boat had been on a delivery run from France to Ireland.
Wicklow RNLI volunteer Tommy Dover said: ‘It was such a bad night but the experienced crew, confident in the lifeboat's ability to meet the conditions, skilfully responded and were thankful and delighted to be able to assist the four crew members and their vessel safely to shore this morning.’
Saving grace: Despite a force nine gale, torrential rain and a 10ft-13ft breaking swell, the four fishermen were rescued and their boat towed to Wicklow Harbour
Source: DailyMail/ BBC, UK.