New Quay RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat rescues fishing vessel in severe weather

Lifeboats News Release

On Friday 10 January 2020 at 18.41 New Quay RNLI’s Mersey class lifeboat, the Frank and Lena Clifford of Stourbridge was paged to assist a 16.5m commercial fishing vessel, approximately 17 miles north west of New Quay, in strong winds of force 6-8, rising to severe gale force 9 for a time.

In worsening weather conditions, the 100 ton whelker, with six persons on board, had suffered steering failure and was in need of assistance. New Quay’s all-weather lifeboat was tasked by Milford Haven Coastguard and launched with seven crew members on board. Due to the size of the vessel, and with severe weather expected, Fishguard RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat was also tasked.

Dan Potter, New Quay RNLI’s Coxswain recounts the shout in stormy conditions,

“We proceeded to the casualty position with an estimated time of arrival of just over an hour but, with the casualty vessel running with the weather, it was just after 8pm when we reached them. The weather conditions were extremely challenging but we quickly set up a tow line in very difficult conditions.

“We began the tow with Fishguard’s lifeboat standing by, alongside the casualty. We had discussed towing options and agreed that the safest course of action would be for New Quay’s lifeboat to complete the full 28 mile tow to Fishguard harbour.

“By midnight the conditions had worsened to a severe gale force 9. In uncomfortable seas, with spray limiting visibility, we relied heavily on our radar and AIS receivers.”

After entering Fishguard harbour at 2.35am, New Quay lifeboat transferred the tow to Fishguard RNLI’s Trent class lifeboat and, in difficult conditions, assisted Fishguard lifeboat in manoeuvring the vessel alongside the harbour wall. With the casualty and both lifeboats safely moored, the crews went ashore for a well-earned cup of tea.

With winds howling and seas building, it was decided that New Quay lifeboat and its crew would hole up in Fishguard for the night and return to New Quay in the morning. Having left Fishguard at 8.36am, the lifeboat arrived back in New Quay harbour at 10.35am, 16 hours after launching.

Roger Couch, New Quay RNLI’s Lifeboat Operations Manager added, “This was a gruelling task for the crew in some very challenging conditions. Throughout we were grateful to know that another all-weather lifeboat was in attendance and I’d like to thank both crews for their hard work during this tough shout.”

Notes to editors

RNLI media contact

For more information contact Kate Williams, New Quay Lifeboat Press Officer at [email protected] or 07786 550054. Alternatively contact Eleri Roberts, RNLI Media Officer on 01745 585162 / 07771 941390.


New Quay RNLI's all-weather lifeboat arriving on scene


New Quay RNLI's Mersey class lifeboat assessing the situation before the tow


New Quay RNLI's lifeboat towing the fishing vessel to the safety of Fishguard harbour


Both lifeboats and casualty vessel safely moored in Fishguard harbour


New Quay RNLI's lifeboat alongside Fishguard RNLI's Trent class lifeboat

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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 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.

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