HM Coastguard coordinates successful rescue of four fishermen after vessel capsizes in English Channel

Four fishermen have been safely rescued after their fishing vessel capsized in the English Channel, 14nm south east of Eastbourne this afternoon.

Just before 4pm today (7 November) HM Coastguard received a call from a merchant vessel reporting that they could see a capsized fishing vessel with two people sitting on the hull and two people in the water in the south west lane of the English Channel.  HM Coastguard also received a distress alert transmitted from the fishing vessel’s EPIRB.

The HM Coastguard Lydd search and rescue helicopter was immediately launched, as well as the Eastbourne and Newhaven RNLI All Weather Lifeboats to the scene.

A Mayday relay broadcast was also issued by HM Coastguard asking all vessels in the area to assist if they were nearby.  Many vessels responded to the broadcast and also made their way to the scene.

The merchant vessel, who reported the incident, picked up two persons from the water and the two people on the hull were picked up by the HM Coastguard helicopter.

Kaimes Beasley, Duty Controller for HM Coastguard said:  ‘This was a very successful outcome to what could have been a tragic one.  There was a huge effort to rescue these four men in near gale force conditions in the English Channel. Thankfully, all four fishermen have been picked up and despite being cold and wet are otherwise safe and well.

Safety advice - when heading out to sea you should always make sure you have a means of alerting us if you get into difficulty. We can never get time back, speed is of the utmost importance – don’t wait for things to improve. You need to inform us as soon as a potentially difficult situation is developing - once things start to go wrong, they can develop rapidly. Always carry a means of alerting the coastguard if you get into difficulty.

We recommend your vessel has an EPIRB and a fitted Digital Selective Calling (DSC) VHF radio, a fully charged mobile phone, flares, powerful torch, a personal locator beacon and appropriate personal floatation devices such as a lifejacket or buoyancy aid at all times whilst on deck. VHF coverage along the coast is generally much better. If you get into difficulty use channel 16 to alert the coastguard to your position. When you make an emergency call to the coastguard from VHF radio you will tell everyone within range what your situation is even if you cannot see them – there might be someone nearby who can help you more quickly. If you are at sea and only have a mobile phone you will only be able to speak to the person you are making the call to. If mobile network coverage is poor then you might not be able to make a mobile call at all. If you have got a signal call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.

For remote locations, consider carrying a 406 personal locator beacon to raise the alarm. Maintain your safety equipment, cutting costs will not help you in an emergency.

HM Coastguard is also happy to receive radio checks from vessels if they wish to check their equipment before heading out to sea. You should always have a plan on board for ‘what if?’ and make sure everybody on board knows their part within the plan. In this case, a passing merchant vessel alerted HM Coastguard and we received an EPIRB distress alert which means we were able to respond quickly and get these four casualties safely rescued.


The rescued crew were taken to Dover Coastguard Station where they were assessed by the HM Coastguard Lydd helicopter crew paramedics.  The crew do not require hospital treatment but an ambulance is making its way to the station as a precautionary measure to check them over. 

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