One Rescued, Two Missing After Fishing Vessel Sinks Off Sussex

File image courtesy Eastbourne RNLI

Published Nov 22, 2020 11:50 PM by The Maritime Executive

On Saturday, a scallop fishing vessel went down off the coast of Sussex, England, leaving two fishermen missing. One man survived the ordeal and was brought safely to shore. 

HM Coastguard received a distress signal from the EPIRB belonging to the commercial fishing boat Joanna C at about 0600 hours Saturday morning. The agency dispatched a helicopter and the Newhaven and Eastbourne RNLI lifeboats to an area just three nautical miles off Seaford, near Newhaven. Multiple good samaritan vessels joined in the effort, and a coast guard team took up a patrol on the shoreline. 

The Newhaven RNLI lifeboat found one survivor clinging to a lifebuoy, and the crew transferred him safely to shore for treatment at a hospital. 

"Thankfully one of the three people on board at the time of sinking has been pulled out of the water and brought to shore by the Newhaven RNLI lifeboat but the intensive air and sea search for the two missing crew continues," said Piers Stanbury, the controller for HM Coastguard. "Debris has been located close to location of the EPIRB alert location but no life raft has been found as yet."

The search for the remaining two crewmembers was suspended overnight, but the Newhaven and Eastbourne RNLI lifeboats resumed the operation at 0730 hours on Sunday morning, with help from local fishing vessels. In an update Sunday, HM Coastguard said that nothing further had been found, and it called off the search at 1430 hours Sunday afternoon. 

"It is testament to the local maritime community that HM Coastguard were so admirably supported . . . by nearby vessels and the local fishing communities who joined us in force and made strenuous efforts to locate their colleagues during the search. At one point, Coastguard coordinators described tracking 14 vessels covering the search plan area including the two RNLI all weather lifeboats at sea," said Chris Thomas, the deputy director of HM Coastguard.

The 1980-built Joanna C had just completed a full refit in 2019, including a new main engine, extensive structural steel renewal, new hull plating and new crew amenities.