A VOLUNTEER lifesaver was injured during an emergency operation to rescue a barge which had lost its tow line and was floating dangerously towards a windfarm.
A Hartlepool Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) crew were called by HM Coastguard to incident off Seaton Carew at 3.15am today.
A 66ft tug boat that had been towing the barge on its way from Sunderland to Lowestoft, in Norfolk, lost its tow line off an area called the Tees Fairway Buoy, and the large vessel began heading towards the restricted area around the turbines.
Mike Craddy, lifeboat operations manager, at Hartlepool RNLI, said: “The pagers went off at 3.15am and our volunteer crew members launched Hartlepool RNLI’s All weather lifeboat, Betty Huntbatch, at 3.29am. They arrived on scene at 3.45am.
“The Coxwain, Robbie Maiden, quickly assessed the situation and began trying to recover the tow line which was floating in the water.
“A line was passed from the tug to the Hartlepool lifeboat and we attached that to our line which we had attached to the recovered line. This was then passed to the tug.”
He added: “During this action one of our volunteer crew members injured his shoulder and our all-weather lifeboat suffered a technical issue and we had to return to Hartlepool Marina leaving the scene at 5.05 am.”
The tow line was taken hold of for a second time by a River Tees tug that had been standing by.
The tug and the barge were then escorted away from the windfarm and headed back off on their journey to Lowestoft.
Hartlepool RNLI’s All weather lifeboat returned to Hartlepool Marina at 5.45am where the injured volunteer crew member was given medical assistance by Hartlepool RNLI’s doctor.
The lifeboat was stood down from service.
Mr Craddy added: “This was an unusual service with a successful outcome.”
At 6.15pm yesterday the crew was called to another rescue, this time of a jet skier who had ended up stranded in the water after his jet ski ran out of control and landed on rocks at Seaton Carew.
The RNLI crew rushed to his aid, pulled him from the water and handed him over to waiting paramedics on land.
A Coastguard spokesman said he was suffering with the “cold”.