A cross-channel passenger ferry was diverted to assist the crew of a fishing vessel as it sank off the South Devon coast at the weekend.
Brittany Ferries’ flagship Armorique, which travels between Plymouth and Roscoff, responded to a coastguard warning after the fishing crew were forced to abandon their boat on Saturday afternoon.
The Coastguard received a distress alert from the Chloe T at around 4.20pm on Saturday after it lost power and its pumps failed. The beam trawler, which is registered in Penzance but based in Brixham, was around 20 miles off Bolt Head, south west of Salcombe.
The Armorique, and another vessel that responded, the Maersk Patras, stood by as the crew abandoned ship and took to the life raft. The Royal Navy rescue helicopter from Culdrose then winched them to safety.
Video footage of the vessel sinking:
The five crew members were yesterday safely back onshore, while Brixham Coastguard was in contact with the owners regarding salvage.
Brixham Coastguard heaped praise on the men, saying their quick thinking in getting all five members off the vessel had saved them from disaster.
Watch manager David Colmer said: “The actions of this crew almost certainly resulted in them all being rescued from this dangerous situation. They called the Coastguard at an early stage, all wore lifejackets and took to the life raft when the situation onboard deteriorated.”
The RNLI lifeboat based at Salcombe was also sent to the scene. When it arrived, the fishermen had already been airlifted, but the sinking boat still posed a danger to other vessels.
Salcombe lifeboat duty coxswain Dean Login said they received confirmation that nobody was left onboard. “With this in mind it seemed too dangerous to place one of our volunteer crew onboard an unfamiliar sinking vessel, and with no lives in danger we stood by to warn vessels of the obstruction to navigation.”
MV Mair vessel from Trinity House relieved the lifeboat of its monitoring duties later that night.