West Kirby RNLI volunteers launch two hours before daybreak
At 3.15am on Sunday, RNLI volunteers were tasked to search for any survivors from a burning vessel moored in the Dee.
The lifeboat was tasked to search for survivors who may have been on board the stricken vessel at the inception of the fire.
The concern was that there may have possibly been an explosion initially and there could have been injured persons on board or that any persons on board may have taken refuge from the flames and entered the water.
These concerns were compounded as there was a flooding high tide in an area that would have had strong currents due to the channels into Thurstaston and the incident was unfolding in the hours of darkness with two hours before daybreak.
At approximately 3.15 the West Kirby Lifeboat was launched and proceeded at full speed to the area of the moorings off Calday Blacks.
On arrival at the scene, the crew of four volunteers in the lifeboat could not get closer than two boat lengths to the vessel due to the intensity of the fire. On inspection, the stricken vessel had lost its entire superstructure to the fire and the hull was beginning to buckle and melt, there was a large hole in the side of the craft.
It was evident from the fire that there was no chance of any human viability on board the vessel and therefore the RNLI lifeboat crew commenced a search of the area heading further south visiting every vessel moored in the area as far as the Heswall moorings looking for any possible survivors who may have taken to the water from the burning vessel.
Simultaneously, volunteers in the West Kirby RNLI launching vehicle commenced a search at the waterline from Dee Sailing Club to the Heswall moorings.
At approximately 3.45am the RNLI Hoylake lifeboat was tasked to assist and arrived on scene at 4.13 and used its salvage pump to douse the flames while the West Kirby lifeboat continued to search the moored vessels on the water nearby.
At 4.39 the Hoylake lifeboat reported that the vessel was sunk, the only trace being an area of pollution from the vessel's engine and bilges and a gas canister that was possibly damaged in the fire and deemed too dangerous to recover due to the risk of explosion.
On completion of the seaward search, including the checking of all moored vessels complemented by the water line search from the beach by the charity's volunteers in the West Kirby launching vehicle, it was deemed by HM Coastguard that the area had been searched extensively and no one had been found.
Therefore, RNLI personnel were stood down at 4.53. The West Kirby launching vehicle returned to West Kirby slipway at Sandy Lane to recarriage the lifeboat and return to the station.
The West Kirby Lifeboat was washed down and prepared for the next service by 6am.
Key facts about the RNLI
The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates over 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.