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Dramatic helicopter rescue after pair’s fishing boat sinks off Norfolk coast

PUBLISHED: 16:23 05 November 2018 | UPDATED: 15:08 06 November 2018

A file photo of a S92 Coastguard search and rescue helicopter, similar to the one which went to the aid of a sinking boat off Wells. Picture: BOB SHARPLES PHOTOGRAPHY

A file photo of a S92 Coastguard search and rescue helicopter, similar to the one which went to the aid of a sinking boat off Wells. Picture: BOB SHARPLES PHOTOGRAPHY

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Two young fishermen spent about 30 minutes in the sea before they were rescued after their boat sank off the Norfolk coast.

The Wells-based all-weather lifeboat Doris M Mann, right, was involved in the rescue. Picture: COURTESY WELLS LIFEBOATThe Wells-based all-weather lifeboat Doris M Mann, right, was involved in the rescue. Picture: COURTESY WELLS LIFEBOAT

The pair, from the Wells fishing vessel, Lainy, called the UK Coastguard for help while clinging to the side of the hull of their vessel.

They were rescued by a Wells-based lifeboat and later winched to safety by a Coastguard helicopter from Humberside, before being taken to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

Wells deputy lifeboat press officer Peter Rainsford said: “Following a Mayday to UK Coastguards at 2.22pm on Monday, November 5, the fishing vessel, Lainy, radioed that she was sinking.”

WATCH: This is the moment one of the fishermen was lifted to a helicopter after being plucked from the North Sea

The Wells-based all-weather lifeboat Doris M Mann, right, was involved in the rescue. Picture: GRAHAM CORNEYThe Wells-based all-weather lifeboat Doris M Mann, right, was involved in the rescue. Picture: GRAHAM CORNEY

A Belgian military helicopter, which was training in the area at the time, spotted the pair in the water and dropped a liferaft to them which they then clung on to. The Belgians then guided the RNLI into the exact location of the fishermen.

Mr Rainsford said: “Wells all-weather lifeboat, Doris M Mann, launched a few minutes later and raced to her rescue along with other vessels in the vicinity, including two high speed wind farm vessels.

“The fishing boat, which is out of Wells, gave her position as being approximately six miles north-north-west of Wells and said two of her crew were in the water. The wind farm vessel Seacat Magic was the first vessel on scene, at about 2.55pm.

“The men could not be seen at first, but after a search they were located. The lifeboat arrived at 3.04pm and recovered two casualties from the water.

Peter Rainsford of Wells lifeboat. Picture: MATTHEW USHERPeter Rainsford of Wells lifeboat. Picture: MATTHEW USHER

“They were in life jackets. They were wet, cold, but conscious.

“At 3.06pm the rescue helicopter arrived and winched the casualties from the lifeboat for rapid onward passage to hospital. The lifeboat was then stood down and returned to station to be made ready again for service.”

He said the young men would have been in the water about half an hour, which was “quite a long time and a cause for concern”.

He added: “They will have to be checked over at hospital. They will probably be treated for hypothermia and water ingestion.

“It was a very good outcome and we are satisfied that everything went well.

“We are just sorry that two local lads lost their fishing boat.”

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency tweeted: “Two fishermen, wearing life jackets, safely rescued after their boat capsized off the coast of north #Norfolk. Called Coastguard whilst clinging to the side of the hull of their vessel, just before it sank #allsafe.”

Reaction to the rescue from Wells fishermen

Nicky King, chairman of Wells and District Inshore Fisherman’s Association, is the coxswain on the lifeboat.

Mr King said rescues such as this were thankfully rare.

He said: “We have been fairly quiet recently so this is the biggest call-out we’ve had in the last six months. Obviously, there could have been a different outcome, but this was a textbook operation.

“The Mayday going off brought a lot of vessels out to help them.

“The young lads on the boat did everything right. It is dangerous for fishermen out at sea, but the risks are just part of the job, and it’s people’s livelihoods.”

Another Wells fisherman, Andy Frary said other boats had sunk in a similar position.

He said: “It’s not the first boat to be sunk there. There must have been two or three over a 40-year period. The boat is insured and the two lads have the whole of Wells’ fishing community behind them.”

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