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Seaman Evacuated from Ship In Joint Sea and Air Rescue

Lifeboats News Release

A MERCHANT seaman was evacuated from his ship in an operation involving Tynemouth RNLI lifeboat and a Coastguard rescue helicopter.

A MERCHANT seaman was evacuated from his ship in an operation involving Tynemouth RNLI lifeboat and a Coastguard rescue helicopter.

At 1pm on Friday the UK Coastguard Operations Centre at Humber were radioed by the captain of the 160m, 22,100tonne bulk carrier HC Jette-Marit informing them that his chief engineer was unwell and had possibly suffered a heart attack. The vessel was approximately four miles east of Sunderland where it was due to anchor before entering the port on Saturday.

As the radio conversation progressed, UK Coastguard were told that the chief engineer, a Ukrainian national, refused to be evacuated from the ship by helicopter and signed a disclaimer confirming his intentions which was sent to the Coastguard and the shipping agent, meaning that the Coastguard was unable to offer further assistance despite urging the man to allow them to assist.

Shortly before 2pm the situation changed when the captain of the ship radioed UK Coastguard to tell them that the engineer had been persuaded to be evacuated by sea. Tynemouth RNLI all weather lifeboat was then requested to launch to evacuate him.

The lifeboat with six volunteer crew members launched just six minutes after being paged and sped to the HC Jette-Marit. Sea conditions were very bad with strong northerly winds, a tidal surge and a swell between 1 and 5 metres.

Reaching the ship twenty minutes after launching, its captain positioned it to allow the lifeboat coxswain to come to the pilot ladder where two crew members were to be put on board with a casualty care kit. Getting the crew on board was extremely hazardous in the swell and only made possible by the coxswain's extensive skill and experience.

Once on board, the two crew members assessed the casualty and gave him first aid to stabilise his condition, while the lifeboat stood by a safe distance away.

The sea conditions worsened and it became apparent that it was not going to be possible to safely evacuate the casualty by sea, a situation worsened by the ship's captain's reluctance to reposition the ship to give the lifeboat shelter due to a chain securing deck cargo snapping.

The casualty was persuaded by the RNLI crew members that it was in his best interests to be taken of the ship by air so a Coastguard rescue helicopter was then requested. This left Humberside airport soon after and as it was flying north, the lifeboat volunteers kept the casualty comfortable and prepared him for winching.

The helicopter arrived on scene at 4.18pm and their winchman was lowered to the deck of the HC Jette-Marit. Winchmen are trained paramedics and he gave further treatment and preparation for winching before he was placed on a stretcher and winched into the helicopter.

Owing to the severe seas, the two lifeboat crew members were also winched into the helicopter and taken with the casualty to Newcastle's Royal Victoria Infirmary. After the casualty was placed in the care of hospital medics the crew members were returned to Tynemouth lifeboat station by members of the Tynemouth Volunteer Life Brigade who had been tasked by UK Coastguard to man the hospital landing site.

In the meantime, the lifeboat was stood down and returned to station after refuelling, arriving at 6pm.

Adrian Don, spokesman for Tynemouth RNLI lifeboat station, said: 'This was an unusual situation with the casualty initially refusing any help despite suffering what could have been a fatal condition.

'The casualty was able to walk off the helicopter and we hope he makes a full recovery. His arrival at hospital was only made possible by the coordinated rescue response and in particular the skill, determination and bravery of our volunteer lifeboat crew and the helicopter crew, who worked in very challenging sea and weather conditions.'

Ends

For more information: Please contact Adrian Don, Volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer, on 07834 731833 or at Adrian_Don@rnli.org.uk

Photo captions: 13 Jan 2017 Tynemouth RNLI lifeboat and a Coastguard rescue helicopter evacuate the Ukrainian chief engineer from the cargo vessel HC Jette Marit. Please credit Michael Brown/RNLI

Tynemouth RNLI lifeboat station was established in 1862 although there have been lifeboats on the river Tyne since the world's first purpose built lifeboat was launched here in 1790. The station has 30 volunteer crew members who come from all walks of life. We operate two lifeboats: The Severn class all weather lifeboat Spirit of Northumberland and our D class inshore lifeboat Mark Noble. We have a website at www.tynemouth-lifeboat.org, and you can find us on Facebook at Facebook.com/TynemouthRNLI or follow us on Twitter @TynemouthRNLI
13 Jan 2017 Tynemouth RNLI lifeboat and a Coastguard rescue helicopter evacuate the Ukrainian chief engineer from the cargo vesse HC Jette Marit

RNLI/Michael Brown

Seaman Evacuated from Ship In Joint Sea and Air Rescue
13 Jan 2017 Tynemouth RNLI lifeboat and a Coastguard rescue helicopter evacuate the Ukrainian chief engineer from the cargo vesse HC Jette Marit

RNLI/Michael Brown

Seaman Evacuated from Ship In Joint Sea and Air Rescue

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The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates over 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.

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