THE crew of a Shetland whitefish trawler were airlifted to safety early on Sunday morning after their vessel went aground on Atla Holm, a rocky outcrop near Hamnavoe, in Burra.
The 22 metre wooden Quiet Waters (LK209) was on her way to Scalloway to land fish and shelter from an approaching southeasterly gale, when the accident happened at around 2.30am.
The coastguard helicopter Search and Rescue 102 was quickly at the scene and winched the six crew members off the stricken vessel.
Winch operator Kieran Murray said the rescue job had been a straightforward one after they managed to overcome some initial language problems with the multinational crew.
“We arrived at the scene with the vessel lying over at its portside with the port quarter actually under the water at an angle, so that the crew were on the starboard side hanging on with one hand; as otherwise they would have slipped into the water.
“We wanted to put a high line on board but we could not get the crew to understand initially what we wanted to do. The reason for that was two of the crew were Filipino and two were from Ghana.
“But once we had briefed them we were able to put a highline on deck followed by the winch man. That technique keeps the cable and the winch man clear of all the obstacles on the deck. After that the rescue was executed very quickly,” he said.
They were all flown to Sumburgh airport, where the local Fishermen’s Mission took care of the foreign nationals, while the two local men returned home to Burra.
Skipper Ross Christie said: “We were just steaming into Scalloway in a poor night and hit the rocks and grounded her.
“We called the coastguard and they got their helicopter out and lifted off the six crew. They reacted very fast and got us off the vessel. They did a very good job.”
Crew member Stephen Awotwe said he was sleeping in his bunk and woke up from a loud bang. He ran up to the bridge to find out what had happened. “The helicopter came and we all went on board. You could not stand upright and the vessel had almost capsized,” he said
The Quiet Waters is now sitting high and dry on the rocks just outside Hamnavoe village. Attempts to tow her off will either be made later on Sunday afternoon or, weather depending, on Monday.
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