Eastbourne all-weather lifeboat was scrambled last night in response to a ‘Mayday’ distress call from a 90 metre cargo vessel 16 miles offshore which was taking on water and in danger of sinking in the busy shipping lane.

At 19.25 on Sunday evening (6 Dec) the volunteer crew of Eastbourne’s all-weather lifeboat were paged following a mayday distress call from the 3420 tonne cargo vessel EMS Majestic which was sinking 16 miles off Eastbourne with its crew of seven preparing to abandon ship. In addition to Eastbourne lifeboat, rescue helicopters from Lydd and Lee-on-Solent were also paged to assist.

When the lifeboat arrived on scene the stricken vessel was beam-on to the weather and being swamped in rough seas and near gale force winds. The coastguard rescue helicopter from Lydd managed to winch two of the crewmen from the deck of the pitching ship whilst the lifeboat prepared to evacuate the others. Fortunately the remaining crew succeeded in stemming the ingress of water and starting the ships salvage pumps and equally fortuitously a passing tug responding to the mayday diverted from its passage and was able to take the cargo ship under tow. Eastbourne ALB stood by whilst the tow was established and stabilised. The volunteer lifeboat crew were then stood down whilst the casualty vessel continued under tow to Southampton for repairs.