Sunderland RNLI assist with rescue of 5 fisherman after tender capsizes


Sunderland Lifeboats, D Class in foreground

Benjamin Mitchell
Lifeboat Press Officer at Sunderland.

Sunderland RNLI were involved in a dramatic rescue this afternoon after a joined up effort saw four people saved from the water.

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At 5:45pm five fisherman were securing their fishing boat to moorings at the west end of Corporation quay when three of the group were using a tender (a small rowing boat) to return back to the river bank they capsized plunging all of them into the very cold water. Two of them managed to get back to the larger fishing boat whilst the third young male was getting into a lot of difficult and unable to get back to the boat, it was then that the male’s father dove from the fishing boat into the water in an attempt to save his son.

At this point some members of the public fishing on the opposite side of the river were witnessing the dramatic events. They managed to attract the attention of the fishing vessel “Sarah Jean” which was travelling down the river Wear and pointed out the struggling people in the water. The “Sarah Jean” and her crew were then was able to put into action a real joined up rescue mission.

The crew immediately made their way to pick up the two struggling people in the water, whilst in the meantime calling the Coastguard on VHF channel 16* to inform them of the developing situation.

The VHF call allowed Humber Coastguard to then make the swift decision to request the launch of Sunderland RNLI’s D Class inshore lifeboat (MyJo) to assist. Just over five minutes later the volunteer lifeboat crew arrived on scene and began to assess the situation. The “Sarah Jean” had two of the casualties on board and was bringing them back to Sunderland marina. The other two people who had initially fell in the water plus the other member of their party had been collected by Sunderland Harbour Patrol boat who had heard the drama unfold over the VHF radio.

On arrival the RNLI transferred a medic onto both of the boats to assess all people who had been in the water and initiate casualty care. All the craft involved returned to Sunderland marina were the RNLI had a shore team waiting, which along with the assistance of the coastguard transferred all casualties to the boathouse for further treatment and to be assessed by waiting paramedics.

Sam Clow Volunteer crewmember at Sunderland RNLI said, ‘Today was a very successful mission for ourselves; but we must express how in this situation the spirit and efforts of all involved; from the anglers on the riverbank to the crews on the “Sarah Jean” and Harbour Patrol boat all of which were so important in saving the lives of those in need.’

Two of the casualties were taken by paramedics on to hospital as they were suffering from sickness after ingesting saltwater and showing the early signs of hypothermia.

Sam continued ‘Although the lifeboat crews medical skills were imperative in this rescue we would like to extend our thanks to all involved today, the use of VHF radio meant that not only were ourselves and the coastguard able to assist but the passing patrol boat could help as well’.

After the casualties were passed on to the ambulance service the volunteer crew at Sunderland RNLI recovered the lifeboat to make her ready for the next rescue mission.

As a registered charity the RNLI relies on voluntary donations and legacies from the public for its income.

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