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RNLI tractor and trailer worth £300,000 salvaged after getting stuck in North Sea

PUBLISHED: 08:17 13 December 2017 | UPDATED: 12:50 13 December 2017

The recovery of the Happisburgh RNLI lifeboat tractor that got stuck off the shore in soft ground.
Picture: Nick Butcher

The recovery of the Happisburgh RNLI lifeboat tractor that got stuck off the shore in soft ground. Picture: Nick Butcher

Archant © 2017

As dramatic rescues go it was a painstaking process - but there was relief when it was all over.

The recovery of the Happisburgh RNLI lifeboat tractor that got stuck off the shore in soft ground.
Picture: Nick ButcherThe recovery of the Happisburgh RNLI lifeboat tractor that got stuck off the shore in soft ground. Picture: Nick Butcher

A 12 tonne trailer and tractor, worth nearly £300,000, was rescued from the North Sea at Cart Gap, near Happisburgh, on Tuesday, December 12.

Several crew members from Happisburgh RNLI lifeboat station were out in the early morning cold - there was plenty of snow overnight in the area - with work starting just before 8am and ending about 90 minutes later. A specialist engineer had also been called in from Poole, Dorset to help the rescue.

The Happisburgh tractor and trailer had been stuck in soft ground near the shoreline - due to the recent storms - during routine training over the weekend. This is known as a bog-down.

The tractor had subsequently become submerged in the water while the trailer could just be seen floating above the waves.

The lifeboat crew had to recover both vehicles using a specialist RNLI recovery tractor. Ropes were attached and the vehicles were pulled from the sea onto the beach, with their tops slowly emerging, before being driven up the icy ramp.

Lee Firman, RNLI area life-saving manager, said: “We were carrying out a routine inspection on Sunday. We have had a few weeks of changeable weather and the beach conditions had become quite soft.

“The lifeboat Atlantic 85 was in the carriage/ trailer and was launched as per normal, and then the tractor and trailer got stuck in soft ground.

“The tractor driver attempted to recover it from the hole it was in, but he had to abandon and lock up the vehicles. The driver escaped from the roof of the tractor with the water about 5ft high by this time and made it safely back to shore.

“The weather conditions were too bad on Monday to recover it, so we waited until Tuesday. It was quick a quick recovery and smooth.”

No damage was caused to the trailer, which was found to be dry inside, and the tractor should be back in service by the end of the week.

“There will now be an internal investigation into the cause of it,” Mr Firman added.

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