A fishing boat sank in the waters off Portsmouth just moments after her captain was snatched to safety on Sunday, April 22.
The Sea Bird, a local trawler out of Old Portsmouth, ran into trouble two miles off Eastney as crew noticed she was taking on water at her stern. When they called for help, the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) made a dramatic rescue.
Though the crew were lifted to safety within minutes, a lifeboatman remained behind, having jumped free just before the stricken vessel sank out of sight. He swam until he was picked up by the Gosport and Fareham Inshore Rescue Service.
Such heroics typify a lofty vision to save lives, which has driven the RNLI, one of Britain’s favourite and enduring charities.
Founded 188 years ago and serving the UK and the Republic of Ireland, its volunteers are given expert training and required to put others first to fulfil an organisational promise to “end preventable loss of life at sea”.
Every day its lifeboat teams perform acts of selfless courage to save the lives of mariners for the charity, which has the Queen as its patron and runs almost exclusively on gifts, donations, and legacies.
Trusted by the public for high skills, dependability and excellent teamwork, the RNLI currently boasts 40,000 volunteers. Rescuers regularly win awards for valour and courage, with individual members often being recognised with medals and bravery awards.
RNLI crews provide 24-hour search and rescue lifeboats and seasonal lifeguard cover on 160 domestic beaches.
Though it is still not clear exactly what caused the Sea Bird to sink at 2.45 a.m. on Sunday, the boat is to be salvaged and hopefully restored.
The craft’s fuel tanks were intact when she went down so a pollution risk is minimal.