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RNLI Moelfre Eight Hours at Sea to Assist Fishing Vessel

Lifeboats News Release

Moelfre ALB was tasked at 12:35 on Sunday, April 21st, 2024, to reports of a mechanically disabled 14-meter Scallop trawler approximately 12 miles North of Puffin Island. The vessel was drifting west towards the shipping lanes and following a Pan Pan urgency call from the Holyhead coastguard,


No other ships in the area could assist. The disabled vessel requested a tow back to Porth Penrhyn.

The lifeboat launched and was on scene within 25 minutes. Once on scene, it was discovered that the vessel's derricks were stuck in the down position and scallop dredges hanging approximately 5 meters beneath the surface. The ALB and crew stood by while the crew made several attempts to recover the fishing gear manually.

Unfortunately, due to the sheer weight of the equipment, attempts to recover the dredges and stow the beams were unsuccessful. With the vessel in its current state and with the risk of fouling its gear on the seabed, towing to its home port of Porth Penrhyn was not feasible.

The coxswain transferred a crew member to improve communications and requested that the vessel jettison the fishing gear and manually stow the large derricks. This request was denied as they didn't have the equipment onboard to cut or remove the wires from the winches or suitable equipment to mark the dredges for future recovery.

As there was no immediate risk to life, and the vessel had full electrical power and all navigational aids for safety, it was deemed by Coxswain and Coastguard to be a commercial Tow with specialist equipment required to remove the fishing gear and derricks.

Following lengthy discussions between the Coastguard, Coxswain, and owners, it was agreed that the lifeboat would stand by and provide safety cover while commercial recovery options were discussed. If required, it would connect a tow should the situation change and the vessel drift into danger.

Although there was no response from the coastguard's Pan Pan call, it was later discovered that the Scalloper's sister vessel was also working in the area. The owner later instructed the sister vessel (another 15mtr scalloper) to provide support and assistance. Once it arrived, they transferred some lifting equipment over with ropes and buoys to jettison the dredge. Following several hours of work, the fishing gear was lowered to the seabed. And the sister vessel connected a tow, while the crew of the trawler began work to manually recover the beams/ derricks on their way back to Porth Penrhyn. Once safely underway, the coastguard released the lifeboat and crew after eight hours at sea.

Although this vessel needed assistance, there was no immediate risk to life. The RNLI will always offer to assist or provide safety support where required. Still, with the risk of damaging the lifeboat or injuring the crew and following a full towing assessment, lifeboats cannot/ will not venture into commercial towing or salvage work. We work closely with our colleagues in the Coastguard and casualty vessels and their owners to offer support and advice and, more importantly, ensure the safest resolution is achieved.

For further information, please contact Phil Williams, Moelfre Lifeboat Press Officer, on 07773 979910,


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 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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