Wednesday, 19 December 2012

RIP - Penlee lifeboat crew - 19th December 1981

The Newlyn trawler Fern and the St Mary's lifeboat search in vain for survivors in the early hours of Sunday morning.

The Penlee lifeboat had been called out to the coaster Union Star which was unable to use her main engine. She later founded on rocks near Tater Dhu. The Penlee lifeboat was dashed to pieces by the force of the storm.

The crews of both vessels were lost and some bodies were never recovered.
Many of the Penlee crew had been socialising in the British Legion club when the alarm was raised.

Only one volunteer per family was chosen because the weather was so treacherous.

Reports suggest the Solomon Browne crew kept moving alongside the Union Star, at least twice it was thrown on the coaster's deck, and on another occasion slammed into its side.

But it appeared to move away under control and its last message confirmed four people had been rescued.

A helicopter crew saw Solomon Browne, only 50 yards off shore, apparently turn back perhaps in another rescue bid.

There was no further radio contact with the lifeboat and her lights disappeared 10 minutes later.

Posthumous awards of gallantry were made to the coxswain, crew and station and the Queen sent a message of sympathy to the bereaved families.