Ramsgate RNLI called to sinking vessel after red flare alert

All weather boat- photo by Sarah Hewes

Ramsgate RNLI launched its all-weather boat. The Esme Anderson, yesterday (December 16) after fears for two people aboard a sinking vessel 42 miles North East of Ramsgate.

Coastguard requested the crew respond to a report of red flares being sighted by commercial shipping at 7.30am.

The sea conditions were moderate with a metre of swell and the wind south-westerly force five to six. In the drizzling rain it was a long journey for the volunteer crew as even making best possible speed in the conditions it took them two hours to reach the scene.

Deputy Launch Authority Rick Bean said: “This is the furthest distance that our volunteer crew have been sent this year and at the time of launch we were advised that there were two people onboard a sinking vessel and there was danger to life as the vessel was in the traffic lane.

“The traffic separation lane is basically a road at sea where all the large commercial shipping restricted by the size of their draft, how much of the boat’s hull is underwater, travel up the Channel on the left hand lane and back down on the right hand lane.”

Whilst enroute the crew received an update that the casualties wearing lifejackets had in fact abandoned their boat which had subsequently sunk in deep water. They had been rescued by a cargo ship that had seen the flares. Once the situation was clarified it turned out that they had in fact been in the life raft overnight.
The all weather lifeboat was then tasked with recovering the life raft as it was drifting in the middle of the shipping lane and checking that no one else was in the water. The raft was recovered and placed on the aft deck and once tied down the crew returned to station. arriving about 12.15pm.

The casualties were then airlifted from the cargo ship by Rescue 163, the Coastguard Helicopter and taken to Dover Coastguard Station.

A RNLI spokesperson said: “Thankfully there was a successful outcome in this case but it could have easily been very different. The RNLI is an emergency service that is entirely funded by donations from the public and the majority of its crew are volunteers.”


  1. Glad to hear all are safe. Well done to all involved in the rescue of the seamen including the cargo ship which was nearest and definitely sailing with look outs doing their work. Could have been a very different ending.

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