Cowes Lifeboat Station

RNLI lifeboats join multiagency rescue in the Solent

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Four RNLI lifeboats joined a massive multi-agency rescue when a large cargo ship grounded on the Brambles Bank in the entrance of the Southampton Waters last night (3 Jan).

The charity’s lifeboats from Calshot (x2), Yarmouth and Cowes joined two search and rescue helicopters in the operation to rescue 24 crew members from the car carrier Hoegh Osaka following a launch request from Solent Coastguard at 9.30pm.

All 24 crew members aboard the vessel were rescued and returned to safety. Some crew were airlifted from the vessel by the Lee on Solent Rescue 104 Coastguard helicopter and Rescue 169 helicopter from HM Coastguard. Two Southampton VTS pilots were also on board the ship.

Tom Pedersen, volunteer Calshot RNLI helmsman, said the rescue operation was a great team effort from all involved.

He added: ‘This is not the sort of call out you expect on a Saturday evening but we had a brilliant response from the RNLI volunteer crews and all the other agencies involved, resulting in the successful rescue of all the ship’s crew.

‘Fortunately, the rescue helicopters managed to winch most of the crew to safety in quite challenging conditions, while two people were rescued by the Calshot RNLI lifeboats. One of them leaped around 8 metres from the ship into the water and was picked up immediately by our inshore lifeboat. The other was rescued from the bow of the ship.’

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The crew of the Calshot RNLI Lifeboat handed the casualties over to the Yarmouth RNLI crew on their All Weather Lifeboat. They were later airlifted and taken to Lee on Solent where ambulances were waiting to take any casualties to hospital.

Calshot’s Atlantic 85 Class Lifeboat Max Walls illuminated the ship and aided in the search for casualties, supported by the Atlantic 85 Class Lifeboat Sheena Louise from Cowes RNLI station

A Yarmouth RNLI crew member was winched by helicopter from the All Weather Lifeboat onto the Hoegh Osaka to help pull up casualties who were trapped aboard the troubled vessel.

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The RNLI crews were all stood down in the early hours of Sunday morning. However, Cowes RNLI were called back out at 1.30am to standby for an hour when the captain, third mate and a VTS Pilot who had initially stayed on board the vessel were air lifted to safety by Lee on Solent Coastguard.

Author: Lucy Kneller-Hole, Calshot Lifeboat Press Officer.