This dramatic video from the coastguard helicopter shows the moments two fishermen were rescued from their capsized boat off the coast of Eastbourne.
In total, four fishermen were safely rescued after their fishing vessel capsized in gale force conditions in the English Channel yesterday afternoon (Wednesday November 7).
Two were found clinging to the hull, while the other two were in the water in treacherous sea conditions.
The trawler is believed to have been the Belgian registered Morgenster which had left Ostend earlier in the week.
It capsized 12 miles off the coast of Eastbourne and Eastbourne’s lifeboat and Newhaven’s vessel were launched.
HM Coastguard said it received a call from a merchant vessel just before 4pm reporting its crew members could see a capsized fishing vessel with two people sitting on the hull and two people in the water in the south west lane of the English Channel.
The coastguard also received a distress alert transmitted from the fishing vessel.
The HM Coastguard Lydd search and rescue helicopter was immediately launched, as well as the Eastbourne and Newhaven RNLI all weather lifeboats.
A Mayday relay broadcast was also issued by HM Coastguard asking all vessels in the area to assist if they were nearby.
Many vessels responded to the broadcast and also made their way to the scene. The merchant vessel, which reported the incident, picked up two people from the water and the two people on the hull were picked up by the HM Coastguard helicopter. Kaimes Beasley, duty controller for HM Coastguard, said, “This was a very successful outcome to what could have been a tragic one.
“There was a huge effort to rescue these four men in near gale force conditions in the English Channel.
“Thankfully, all four fishermen have been picked up and despite being cold and wet are otherwise safe and well.”
A spokesperson at Eastbourne RNLI said, “We launched 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 crewmen 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 was 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.”