Lowestoft RNLI lifeboat called to help a disabled tug towing four giant fenders
The seamanship of a volunteer lifeboat crew was seriously tested when they were called to bring a tug with an engine out of action and towing four giant fenders into harbour.
Lowestoft RNLI relief lifeboat RNLB Cosandra was called into action just before 9.30pm (on September 11th) to go to the aid of the tug that was in difficulty 9 miles East-South-East of the port.
Coxswain John Fox said “we were called to the 28 metre tug which was involved in ‘Ship to Ship’ transfer work – taking giant fenders also called ’Yokohamas’ to oil tankers temporarily moored offshore. The tug was returning to port when one of the lines normally lashed down on deck broke free and became wrapped around one of the ship’s two propellers. This resulted in the tug limping along with just one engine causing difficulty with steering – which was not helped by the giant fenders, two of which were strapped to the starboard side and two being towed from the stern.
We connected our towline and began the slow haul back to the harbour. It was raining, the sea was rolling a bit and we were towing a considerable load but our Shannon-class lifeboat was up to the task. However the biggest test was still to come.
Towing the tug and fenders through the pier heads was going to be a big challenge. There are big tides running across the harbour entrance at the moment and so we took the entry very slowly. The manoeuvrability and response of the water jets propulsion system on the lifeboat enabled us to line the tug up so it could pass between the pier heads. Once into the inner harbour we managed to gently position the tug and fenders onto the ‘hammer head’ quayside between the Waveney and the Hamilton Dock at 1.30am - where the HM Coastguard Rescue Team from Lowestoft were waiting to secure the vessel’s lines.
This has been a busy period for us with this being the third call in as many days - but this was a good test for both the lifeboat and the crew – but both came through it well.”
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, in a normal year, 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.