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Marine / Eight crew members airlifted to safety after fishing boat sinks

The coastguard said all crew are ‘safe and well’

The two helicopters involved in Sunday morning's rescue after landing at Sumburgh Airport. Photo: Ronnie Robertson

EIGHT people have been rescued and flown to Sumburgh Airport after the local whitefish trawler Opportune sank to the east of Shetland earlier this morning (Sunday).

The coastguard said the call came in at around 5am after the boat had reportedly taken in water at the stern and sank quickly.

The incident happened around 36 nautical miles north east of Bressay, in rough seas. All eight crew members from the 27-metre vessel are accounted for and are said to be safe and well.

They were airlifted from their liferafts by the Sumburgh based coastguard helicopter and a Norwegian search and rescue helicopter.

At the time winds were northerly, force six to seven, with an air temperature of around five degrees celsius.

Other vessels in the area also offered their assistance.

Max Rimington for HM Coastguard said: “The fishing vessel crew made their initial call from a DSC radio before all communications were lost with the vessel.

“Following that, an alert was received from their emergency position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB) by the Coastguard. These two methods of communication meant that we knew exactly where the fishermen were and were able to send rescue assets to their location without the need for a protracted search.

“The beacon and DSC, alongside their liferaft undoubtedly led us to recovering all of the fishermen safely.

“This case shows the value of carrying the correct Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) approved equipment, having it correctly registered with HM Coastguard and knowing how to use it. EPIRBs and personal locator beacons (PLBs) can be registered at https://www.gov.uk/register-406-beacons.”

The Lerwick lifeboat crew recovered floating debris from the scene of the sinking, including a liferaft and a ‘hi-line’ rope used for helicopter lifting operations. Photo: RNLI Lerwick

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The Lerwick lifeboat was also sent out and searched the area before recovering floating debris from the surface.

The lifeboat returned to Lerwick harbour around 10am, and was refuelled and made ready for service again.

Lerwick lifeboat coxswain Stephen Manson said: “We’re pleased that all crew were safely recovered by helicopter, given the cold sea temperature and rough sea conditions.

“The fishing vessel was well equipped and their distress beacon gave their exact location for the rescue response. Our volunteer crew are always able to respond to any request to launch for vessels in distress.”

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