Sunderland man believed to be stranded in sinking boat 110 miles off coast

Tynemouth RNLI Severn class all weather lifeboat 'Spirit of Northumberland' off the North East coast in January 2015. Picture by Adrian Don/RNLI.

Tynemouth RNLI Severn class all weather lifeboat 'Spirit of Northumberland' off the North East coast in January 2015. Picture by Adrian Don/RNLI.

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A Sunderland man is believed to be stranded 110 miles off the coast in the North Sea and awaiting rescue from his sinking boat.

The coastguard received a mayday call last night from a man who it’s thought regularly brings decomissioned Danish fishing trawlers back to Wearside before selling them on as leisure craft.

The operation is ongoing and our volunteer crew members won’t be seeing any rest until Wednesday morning but I doubt any of them will mind as they have done a fantastic job, as has everyone else involved.

Adrian Don, of Tynemouth RNLI

A rescue helicopter from Humberside has reached the vessel and supplied a pump which has prevented it taking on any more water.

A six-man crew from Tynemouth RNLI set off this morning in their all-weather lifeboat to try and tow it back to the North East.

It is expected to be the organisation’s longest ever mission, with the crew aiming to get back by the early hours of Wednesday.

Adrian Don, spokesman for Tynemouth RNLI, said: “I’ve spoken to the coastguard and we believed it’s a boat called The Louise Thomsen.

“The crew set off at 9.30am, so we think they will have reached the boat now, but it could be another 12 hours at least before they are back.

“Once they’ve got to the boat, they will probably bring it back to Sunderland.”

Mr Don added that current weather conditions could make the rescue attempt more difficult.

“There’s a strong breeze at the minute and out to see it will be a lot heavier,” he said.

“It’s not ideal, but the crew will have to get the boat out.

“If the man was in any danger they would have airlifted him out.”

On arriving at where the boat was thought to be, the rescue crew had to travel 30 miles south of that point after the vessel drifted.

The lifeboat crew made an assessment of the situation and although the vessel was still capable of moving uinder her own power it was decided it would be best to tow the Louise Thomsen back to safety in Sunderland harbour, and they are expected to arrive back at around 3am.

Mr Don added: “This is the furthest out to sea any RNLI lifeboat has been on service and is at the very edge of our Severn class lifeboat’s range which is limited by the amount of fuel she carries.

“The operation is ongoing and our volunteer crew members won’t be seeing any rest until Wednesday morning but I doubt any of them will mind as they have done a fantastic job, as has everyone else involved.”