Eastbourne’s all-weather lifeboat was launched at 15.52 last evening (7 Nov) in atrocious conditions following a Mayday distress call involving a capsized Belgium trawler  

The trawler was working 15 miles offshore on the edge of the Dover straits shipping lanes when its nets apparently snagged an underwater obstacle and quickly capsized. All four crewmen were thrown into the water which was being whipped up into a four metre swell by near gale force winds. In a stroke of amazing good fortune a passing coaster witnessed the event and immediately put out a mayday distress message before plucking two of the fisherman from the water. Meanwhile the remaining crewman managed to scramble unto the upturned hull of the stricken vessel. Lifeboats from Eastbourne and Newhaven were scrambled along with coastguard rescue helicopter 163. The helicopter was first on scene and winched the two men from the upturned hull and then the two men from the coaster before taking all four to the Conquest Hospital at Hastings for assessment. Meanwhile the volunteer crew of Eastbourne lifeboat were requested to stand by the upturned hull to mark its position and to warn other shipping in the area of the danger until such time as HM Coastguard could organise a tug to take the wreck to a safe place and set up an exclusion zone.

Library image of stricken vessel