On Saturday, the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) volunteer lifeboat crew at Selsey launched to assist the small tugbot General Six, which had lost propulsion. The request was not unusual, except for the fact that the lifeboat had responded to the same request from the same vessel on the day before.
The General Six's crew called for assistance at 0310 on Friday and reported that they had suffered a mechanical casualty. The Selsey lifeboat crew launched quickly and arrived at the Six’s position at about 0410 hours. Conditions were fair, with moderate swell and good visibility, and a tow was established within ten minutes. The lifeboat had the General Six towed back to the harbor by 0515 hours, and the lifeboat crew had their vessel refueled and ready to go for the next mission by 0845 – all told, a quick and efficient turnaround.
On Saturday, the General Six called for help again. The tug had no radio on board, so her crew phoned the SOS message in to the local authorities. They reported that they had suffered an engine failure, that they had gone aground and that they were taking on water. A coast guard helicopter located the General Six and called for the lifeboat crew. The Selsey lifeboat launched at 1340 hours – just 32 hours after they had towed the General Six back into the harbor – and they arrived on scene at about 1410. Conditions were calm, and after determining that the tug's water ingress had been caused by waves breaking over the side, not by a hull breach, the lifeboat crew passed over a tow line and got under way once more.
The lifeboat towed the tug back into the harbor at Littlehampton at about 1520 hours. The General Six was tied up by 1550, and the lifeboat was back in Selsey, washed, refueled and ready to go by 1730 – another quick and efficient turnaround, and hopefully the last one for a while for the General Six.
The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) is a charitable, non-profit lifesaving force with 350 rescue boats located around the British Isles. Its volunteers and full-time lifeguards have been saving seafarers in UK waters for nearly 200 years.