Sunday, 10 March 2019

Fisherman wearing a lifejacket rescued alive from very rough seas after falling overboard from a Brixham beam trawler.

A fisherman who went overboard off the coast of Salcombe earlier this morning has been rescued by the HM Coastguard Newquay helicopter after being in very rough seas for an hour.  HM Coastguard was coordinating the large scale search and rescue mission for the missing fisherman who went overboard 25nm south east of Salcombe.

The fishing vessel made a Mayday broadcast minutes before 4.45am today and the HM search and rescue helicopter based at Newquay quickly made their way sent to the scene, alongside Salcombe and Torbay RNLI All Weather Lifeboats.  

A French Navy aircraft who has been training in the area at the time and a number of fishing vessels responded to a Mayday Relay broadcast issued by HM Coastguard and also joined the search.

The fisherman was located by his own crewmates at 5.45am and the Newquay Coastguard helicopter was alerted to his position and winched him from the water.  He had been in the water for an hour in 3-4m seas and 9 degrees sea temperature and was suffering from the cold.The Newquay Coastguard helicopter flew him directly to Plymouth Hospital.

HM Coastguard Duty Controller Dai Jones said: ‘We could not have hoped for a better outcome.  Our own Coastguard helicopter, A French Navy helicopter, along with a number of fishing vessels and the RNLI, had been searching for an hour this morning in very rough seas and challenging weather conditions.  Thankfully, the fisherman was wearing a lifejacket, which no doubt aided his survival and enabled his crewmates to find him quickly.  

‘By taking this simple safety precaution means that when he fell into the water his survival time increased significantly, despite the cold water and the horrendous weather conditions.   

‘This could have been a very different outcome today had he not been wearing his lifejacket and we commend his actions, which have assisted in saving his life.  We wish him a speedy recovery.’  

Speaking after today’s dramatic rescue, Captain Jörg Brunner from HM Coastguard Newquay helicopter said:  ‘This is an incredible rescue story.  We got the call to help just 5 minutes after the  fisherman had fallen overboard.  Despite horrendous weather conditions on scene with winds in excess of 60 knots, we were preparing ourselves for an extensive search and rescue operation.  The fishing crew had done all the right things and even from a distance we quickly spotted the smoke marker and the life ring they had released.

‘The fisherman was spotted by his crew about 40m on the starboard side of his fishing vessel, some 400m away from smoke marker position. ‘We flew towards that position and saw the casualty immediately as he was wearing a reflective life jacket. ‘We lowered our winchman into the water in very rough conditions and conducted a double winch recovery which only took about 2 minutes. ‘Once on board we flew straight to Derriford Hospital and handed him over to A&E department, where we have now heard that he’s doing well and in good spirits.’