Volunteer Lifeboat Saves Fishing Vessel From Flooding off Cornwall

ocean pride
Courtesy Penlee RNLI

Published Mar 7, 2021 8:26 PM by The Maritime Executive

On Friday afternoon, the crew of the RNLI lifeboat Volunteer Spirit rescued six fishermen aboard a vessel that was rapidly taking on water off Porthcurno, England, near the mouth of the English Channel. 

That afternoon, the fishing vessel Ocean Pride made a pan-pan call and reported that she was taking on water through her stern tube. The rate of water ingress was too fast for her bilge pumps to keep up with, and the situation was critical.

At 1613 hours, the Penlee lifeboat crew received a page from HM Coastguard's station at Falmouth, and within eight minutes' time they were launched and under way. A small container ship, the 800 TEU Mirror, had also heard the call and was standing by in case urgent assistance was needed. 

The lifeboat arrived alongside Ocean Pride at about 1645 hours, and the crew immediately made up a tow rope. Lifeboat crewmember James Roberts climbed up the fishing vessel's considerable freeboard in order to aid in dewatering; with his assistance, the Ocean Pride's crew rigged and started a salvage pump, which just managed to keep up with the flooding. 

An HM Coastguard rescue helicopter arrived shortly after and delivered another salvage pump, which further helped to control the water level. The lifeboat crew slowly towed Ocean Pride back to port at Newlyn, and it waited along with the stricken vessel until high tide so that it could be delivered to a repair facility. 

"It was a critical first shout for me to cut my teeth on," said newly-appointed coxswain Neville Pittman. "The lifeboat crew did a very professional job - this was definitely a vessel and six lives saved."

"A huge thank you . . . I can't and won't ever be able to thank you guys enough for bringing our boys safely home," said Tamarra Laity, a member of one of the Ocean Pride crew's families. "Not only that but staying with them and helping them to make safe and secure our [vessel]."