Newcastle RNLI rescued six fishermen yesterday afternoon (Monday 5 February) in a call out that lasted 12 hours.

At 3.10pm, the volunteer crew members at Newcastle RNLI were alerted by their pagers that Belfast Coastguard had requested the lifeboat to go to the assistance of a fishing vessel 15 miles south east of Newcastle harbour. The boat had broken down and required assistance.

The lifeboat crew that included a teacher, a builder, an outdoor instructor and a local business man all dropped what they were doing and made their way to the lifeboat station where they were chosen to go to sea and assist the stricken fishing boat.

Weather conditions at the time were calm but cold with excellent visibility. The all-weather Mersey class lifeboat Eleanor and Bryant Girling was launched at 3.20pm and reached the casualty vessel at 4.20pm.

Communications were made with the skipper and it was agreed that the best option was for the lifeboat to tow the boat back to the port of Kilkeel. While the tow got underway at a slow speed of four knots and with 15 miles to go, the estimated time of arrival in Kilkeel was approximately 8.30pm. However, due to size of the vessel and the tide ebbing, the lifeboat crew were not able to enter the harbour until 1am.

At 12.30am it was decided to launch Kilkeel RNLI’s inshore lifeboat to assist with the manoeuvring of the fishing vessel into the tight harbour entrance. Shortly after 1.20am the vessel was alongside the quay and handed over to Kilkeel Coastguard rescue team.

Speaking following the call out, Nathan Leneghan, Newcastle RNLI Volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer said: ‘This was the first call out of the year for Newcastle RNLI and we were delighted to help bring the fishing crew to safety. This was a long and challenging call out due to the tide and size of the boat but we worked with the conditions and with the support of colleagues from Kilkeel RNLI were able to bring the boat to safety. We would remind anyone taking to sea to always respect the water. Check weather and tide times before you leave and always let someone ashore know when you are leaving and when you are due back. Always wear a lifejacket and always carry a means of calling or signalling for help should you get into difficulty.’