The U.K.’s Royal National Lifeboat Institution lifeboat Ivan Ellen was called to give assistance to a 7,800 ton container ship on Saturday; then, shortly after, it was called again to assist the container ship’s salvage tug.
The alarm was first raised at 2pm on Friday when the master of the container ship the Samskip Express reported a problem with the vessel's engine and was drifting under anchor off the Cornish coast near Porthleven. The Samskip Express, which sails under an Antiguan flag, was en route from Rotterdam in the Netherlands to Dublin. It was in a position about three miles off the coast near Mullion suffering with complete engine failure.
At 6pm that evening the volunteer crew of the all-weather lifeboat, Ivan Ellen, responded to the alert and remained on station until the salvage tug, MTS Viscount, was safely alongside and giving assistance to the Samskip Express.
The following morning, in worsening weather conditions, the Ivan Ellen lifeboat and its volunteer crew launched again to give assistance to the tug which was about a mile off Newlyn with a rope fouled in its propeller.
Penlee RNLI Coxswain Patch Harvey said: “The owners of the tug were worried that because of the fouled propeller, and the fact that the vessel had little or no maneuverability, getting into Newlyn Harbour would have been very difficult. We arrived on scene, tied the Ivan Ellen lifeboat alongside the MTS Viscount and towed her safely into Newlyn Harbour.”
He went on to say, “The crew of the tug had experienced an uncomfortable night at sea in very poor weather conditions, they were also unfamiliar with our harbor - it was therefore important for the lifeboat to help her safely into port.”
The crew returned to Penlee Lifeboat Station and waited for divers to clear the propeller on the tug. The lifeboat then launched again and accompanied the MTS Viscount back to the Samskip Express, which was anchored off Porthleven. Due to the strong southerly winds, the vessel had drifted a mile closer to the shore.
The lifeboat arrived on scene and remained on stand-by whilst the crew of the tug attempted to get a tow connected to the Samskip Express. At the request of the ship's master, the lifeboat went alongside the container ship on two occasions to pick up the messenger rope (this connects to the main tow rope) and convey it to the tug. This was a particularly difficult maneuver for the lifeboat and its crew due to the winds, gusting to 45 knots at times, rough seas with a four meter swell and heavy squally showers.
Eventually a successful tow connection was made and once both vessels were safely underway, the Ivan Ellen steamed back to Newlyn.