Lifeboat crew return after 18-hour call

The coxswain of the Lerwick lifeboat has spoken about the “horrible” conditions his crew experienced while on an 18 hour call-out.

Stephen Manson described the seas as “brutal” after the lifeboat was called out to aid the Danish trawler Westbank and her three-man crew.

The 17m fishing vessel had broken down, and the RNLI crew launched into difficult conditions in the North Sea, heading into the south-easterly gale which has brought chaos across Scotland.

“It was brutal, there were big seas, a lot of rolling and things going walkabout on the boat,” Mr Manson said.

“We handled it well and it all ran fairly smoothly, but weather was very much a challenge, especially getting there.”

He added: “With the weather and all, it took a little bit longer than usual to get our tow line set up. We got attached to her at the third attempt, and we then started making our way back to Lerwick.”

Westbank had been 60 miles east of Shetland when she started taking on water and experiencing engine trouble.

The Lerwick lifeboat crew responded when a call came in at before lunchtime yesterday. The RNLI said the crew were informed of three people on board, and made best speed, given the conditions, to the casualty vessel. A support vessel and the coastguard helicopter were also on scene.

The lifeboat took the casualty vessel under tow and headed back towards Lerwick, arriving into the harbour at 8:25am on Friday.

A spokesperson for the RNLI said: “This was an incredibly difficult call out for Lerwick RNLI given the treacherous and stormy conditions of the North Sea as Scotland faces Storm Babet.

“The crew preformed outstandingly and after an 18 hour shout, returned back to the station early this morning.

“We cannot thank them enough for their service and dedication to the RNLI and helping to save lives at sea.”


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