Tynemouth RNLI lifeboat station

Major sea, air and land search after empty dinghy is found drifting

A MAJOR search and rescue operation for a possible person lost at sea was launched this evening (Monday August 19) by Tynemouth RNLI lifeboat, an RAF rescue helicopter and Coastguard Rescue Teams this evening after an empty dinghy was found 15 miles out at sea.
Humber Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (Humber Coastguard) were notified at appoximately 18:15 by the skipper of a 29m Dutch sailing vessel that they had come across a 2m dinghy 15 miles east of Blyth, Northumberland. There was reported to be freshly caught fish, personal belongings and a handheld marine VHF radio on board but no sign of any occupant.
Tynemouth RNLI's all weather lifeboat with six volunteer crew on board had been carrying out an exercise off the coast at Cullercoats and was tasked by Humber Coastguard to make its way immediately to the position of the dinghy, while an RAF Search and Rescue helicopter from RAF Boulmer was also tasked to the scene. Both the RNLI lifeboat and the RAF helicopter made an extensive search of the area, directed by Humber Coastguard who advised a search pattern based on  sea currents and wind. Land-based teams from Tynemouth and South Shields Volunteer Life Brigades and Blyth and Sunderland Coastguard Rescue Teams were also tasked to search the shore for a likely launching site for the vessel between Sunderland and Blyth.
Arriving at the scene, the lifeboat crew recovered the dinghy onboard the lifeboat and then started their search which continued for over 5 hours until 23:08 at which point the RAF helicopter made a final search sweep using a heat-seeking camera and the RNLI lifeboat crew had completed their extensive search. Humber Coastguard was then completely satisfied there was no possibility of finding any potential survivors and the search was called off, with all search units returning to station.

The occupant of the dinghy, a 40 year-old male, is safe and currently in hospital having suffered suspected hypothermia. He was taken ill on Sunday evening after fishing from the dinghy close to Cambois beach, near Blyth, Northumberland. An 18 year-old relative who had been fishing with the casualty had managed to get him off the boat and remove the outboard engine before the boat drifted off.

Lifeboat (relief): 17-17 Fraser Flyer (civil Service No.43)

Tynemouth RNLI lifeboats have launched on service 36 times so far this year, with the inshore lifeboat launching 24 times, and the all weather lifeboat 12.