Trawler Sinks During Rescue off Newcastle, England

The responders attempted a tow before the fishing vessel sank (Tynemouth RNLI)

Published Nov 9, 2020 2:02 PM by The Maritime Executive

On Sunday, a British trawler sank after a collision with a merchant ship off the coast of North Tyneside, England. 

At about 1540 hours on Sunday afternoon, the captain of a North Shields-based trawler made a distress call after a collision with a 1700 tonne cargo ship that had recently departed the port of Blyth. The collision occurred about one mile north of the Tyne piers.

The fishing vessel was badly damaged and started taking on water in the engine room, according to the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI). The HM Coastguard's Humber Operations Centre requested the launch of the Tynemouth RNLI all weather lifeboat to respond to the casualty. 

Several good samaritan vessels also responded to the distress call, including the offshore support vessel Ocean Marlin, which launched a daughter craft in case the fishermen needed immediate evacuation.

The RNLI lifeboat and its six volunteer crew members arrived on scene just five minutes after launching. The crew assessed the situation and transferred a salvage pump to the trawler's crew so that they could start pumping out water.

Once the water levels inside the boat dropped, the lifeboat coxswain decided to tow her back to the pier in North Shields, where she could be lifted out of the water for repairs. The lifeboat's tow rope was attached to the fishing boat and the tow got under way. 

Unfortunately, once under way at a very slow speed, the crew quickly found that the boat was so badly damaged that the movement increased the pace of the flooding, and the tow was stopped.

In a final attempt to save the trawler, the Tynemouth RNLI's inshore lifeboat was launched to carry a second salvage pump out to the stricken vessel. As it was making its way to the scene, the fishing boat started to lose stability. Given the risk of a capsizing, the all-weather lifeboat evacuated the fishermen and the lifeboat crewmembers who had transferred on board.

The all-weather lifeboat took the fishermen back to safety at North Shields, and the crew of the inshore lifeboat stayed on scene to keep an eye on the trawler. Unfortunately, the fishing vessel sank shortly after. 

The trawler's auto-inflating liferaft was recovered after the sinking, but no further debris was found. Both lifeboats returned to station at about 1800 hours.