19 Jun Two People rescued from burning vessel
At 15.22 today, Gosport Lifeboat was tasked by Solent Coastguard to attend a vessel outside Portsmouth Harbour that had declared a Mayday after the skipper had seen flames on board.
Our volunteer crew were training in Haslar Marina, when they heard the call for help issued on VHF Channel 16 and immediately started to make their way towards the casualty vessel. On scene within 6 minutes, they found the people on board, in lifejackets, standing on the outer edges of the vessel as flames started to take hold inside. 2 nearby yachts had also responded to the call and were standing by, but could not get close enough due the sea state and plumes of smoke.
Gosport Lifeboat quickly recovered both people to the safety of the lifeboat and then took the vessel under tow, away from the busy shipping channel and into shallower water. Shortly after the tow commenced, flames from the engine room completely engulfed the cabin so Gosport Lifeboat crew deployed an anchor, with assistance from Bembridge RNLI Lifeboat, to prevent the vessel from drifting and becoming a greater hazard.
Bembridge RNLI Lifeboat, took the casualties into the warmth of their cabin and returned them to Chichester Harbour, where the vessel had been based. Meanwhile Gosport Lifeboat remained on-scene to keep inquisitive passing vessels at a safe distance as flares and gas cylinders on board had started to explode.
Duty Coxswain Pete Byford said ‘Thankfully we were on duty with the Lifeboat today and out training as it was only a matter of minutes from our arrival until the vessel was completely engulfed in flames.’
‘The crew on board the vessel had done everything they should: immediately calling for help, wearing their PPE equipment and being ready for the Lifeboat to arrive.’
The duty fire tug, SD Independent, was tasked to come from Portsmouth Harbour to fight the fire with its powerful firefighting apparatus. Unfortunately, with flames completely engulfing the vessel, it was unable to be saved and sank shortly afterwards.
Gosport Lifeboat then assisted the tug in retrieving the fuel tanks, which had been carrying 1800 liters of diesel and other debris from the sunken vessel to minimise any environmental damage.
This is the 53rd incident of the year for Gosport Independent Lifeboat and the 5th incident in the last 3 days. A huge thank you to everyone who assisted with the incident today leading to a safe outcome for the people involved.