Eastbourne lifeboat battled ‘worst sea conditions for many years’ last night

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Eastbourne’s all-weather lifeboat crew battled the ‘worst sea conditions experienced by the volunteer crew for many years’ last night (December 12).

The lifeboat was launched, along with the Coastguard helicopter, at 1.30am to rescue a crewman who had broken his leg on a Belgian trawler, 18 miles offshore.

A lifeboat spokesman said, “Having had several days of gale force winds the sea conditions on scene was extremely hazardous with strong winds and a four-metre swell.

“These conditions were outside the operating capabilities of the helicopter so it had to return to station.

“Two Dutch Warships were in the area and attempted to put themselves in a position to shelter the rescue but after repeated attempts to come alongside the trawler Lifeboat Coxswain Mark Sawyer was forced to abort for fear of causing severe damage to both his own vessel and that of the casualty.

“It was decided that both vessels should steam at full speed to Eastbourne Bay where it was hoped the transfer could take place in relatively calmer condition. Eventually this was achieved and the casualty was finally brought ashore at Sovereign Harbour at approx. 06.30.” .