At 2:58pm on Saturday 19th October 2019, UK Coastguard requested the launch of Seahouses All Weather Lifeboat, to go to the assistance of a 16.7m fishing vessel from Fraserburgh with 4 crew, which had suffered steering failure 16 miles east of the Farne Islands. Sea conditions were rough and deteriorating, with the wind speed also increasing.
The Seahouses Lifeboat RNLB Grace Darling was quickly launched and made best speed to the casualty vessel’s position. On arrival and not without difficulty, the lifeboat was able to pass a tow line, and attempted to commence towing the large disabled vessel. The tow rope parted, and after consultation with the UK Coastguard Operations Room at Bridlington, it was decided at abandon attempts to tow the vessel with the lifeboat, due to its size and weight and the sea conditions. Another large fishing vessel had meanwhile been contacted some distance away, and agreed to come and tow the vessel to a suitable port for repair. Meanwhile, there had also been discussion with the harbour master at Seahouses, and permission to bring the vessel into Seahouses was refused on grounds of safety, due to the rough sea conditions at the harbour mouth, which would make such an operation potentially dangerous. Once it was established that the crew of the casualty vessel were in no immediate danger, and the other fishing vessel was then close by, the lifeboat was stood down and returned to station, after being on service for seven hours. The casualty vessel was then taken in tow by the other large fishing vessel to Blyth for repairs. That vessel also had difficulties with the tow, and Tynemouth Lifeboat was launched at 2.20am to assist and escort the vessels into Blyth. Seahouses lifeboat sustained minor hull damage during the operation, after the vessels were pushed together by the breaking seas.
Seahouses Lifeboat Operations Manager commented, “This was a long, difficult and challenging service, in horrible sea conditions. I would like to compliment and thank the lifeboat coxswain and crew for their best efforts to assist this vessel and her crew. It became clear that the casualty was simply too big and too heavy for the lifeboat to tow in the prevailing sea conditions. However, they were able to stand by the vessel, ready in case the situation became worse, and the crew had to be taken off. It was a relief to learn that that the casualty had eventually reached Blyth safely under tow, and to see the lifeboat safely back in Seahouses harbour, after negotiating the breaking seas across the harbour mouth on their return.”