THIS is the dramatic moment a fishing vessel sank just moments after three men who had been on board were plucked to safety from the icy seas.
Three fishermen had been aboard the 16ft fishing cabin boat when it was swamped by a wave and started taking in water.
But the vessel’s pumping mechanism could not cope with baling out the water and it began to sink.
A mayday call was sent to Humber Coastguard at 1.05pm yesterday and Hartlepool’s RNLI inshore and all-weather lifeboats were launched a minute later.
The RNLI volunteers have been hailed as lifesavers after rescuing the three men, who had been in the water for around 15 minutes – one of which had clung for life to a buoy.
They were rushed to the University Hospital of North Tees, in Stockton, but they are believed to be okay.
The incident, near Longscar Bouy in Hartlepool Bay, about a mile offshore, came a day after a yachtsman from Tees and Hartlepool Yacht Club had fallen overboard while taking part in a yacht race from Sunderland to Hartlepool.
Speaking of yesterday’s rescue, Hartlepool RNLI operations manager Mike Craddy said: “These were certainly three lives saved by our RNLI volunteers.”
A spokeswoman for Humber Coastguard said: “We got a mayday call saying a vessel was sinking. “At the time we didn’t know how many people were on board but it became clear from an eye-witness report that people were in the water, the vessel was sinking fast and assistance was required.”
She added: “This has definitely been a life-saving mission, if the lifeboats hadn’t got there, who knows what would have happened.”
The inshore lifeboat got to the stricken trio first, six minutes after the call.
Mr Craddy said: “Three guys had been fishing in Hartlepool Bay and their boat got swamped by a wave. “The pump couldn’t cope and the boat sank underneath them and they ended up in the water.
“The allweather lifeboat got there shortly after. “We got two men on board the inshore lifeboat and a third person was seen clinging to the buoy, we brought him on board the inshore boat too.
“Thankfully they all had lifejackets on, I’m sure they will be okay, they were just very cold.”
The men were whisked to the lifeboat station, in Ferry Road, where two ambulances were waiting.
All three were checked over, with one being given oxygen, before being taken to hospital.
Saturday’s incident, involving the yachtsman, happened around 2.20pm about half a mile off Steetley pier.
The man, believed to be in his late 50s, was with two other yachtsmen when he got knocked into the sea by the vessel’s boom.
He was in the water for around 20 minutes until his two team-mates on the 32ft yacht, named Mad Hatter, managed to haul him back on board.
Just as he had got back onto the vessel, Hartlepool RNLI inshore lifeboat reached the yacht and an RNLI volunteer climbed on board to check the man over and give him first aid.
The RNLI crewman remained on the yacht as it was escorted by the lifeboat to the RNLI station, where the man was met by an ambulance.
He was taken to the University Hospital of North Tees for treatment.