Skipper’s gratitude to rescuers who saved him in sinking drama

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THE skipper of a fishing boat has thanked his rescuers after being pulled from the trawler seconds before it sank.

Rescuers were called to the stricken boat Sea Bird two miles off Eastney after it started to take on water.

RESCUE An RNLI picture showing the final moments before the boat sank

RESCUE An RNLI picture showing the final moments before the boat sank

Within minutes, the lifeboat volunteers had taken the boat’s two crew members off the rapidly-sinking vessel.

Once the boat’s engine died, it sank beneath the waves so quickly one lifeboat crewman barely had time to leap free.

He was left swimming behind the vessel as it dropped to the bottom of the sea.

Now skipper Norman Grounden, who works on the vessel which is based at The Camber, in Old Portsmouth, said: ‘I would like to thank the lifeboat crews for what they did.

HELPING HAND The moment a crewman boarded the stricken vessel

HELPING HAND The moment a crewman boarded the stricken vessel

‘I couldn’t thank them enough, especially for how quickly they got there.

‘The video will show you just how quickly it all happened.

‘I can’t thank them more for what they did.’

One member of Portsmouth’s RNLI crew was still on board the sinking trawler when it finally went beneath the waves.

As reported in The News, Peter Slidel had to leap into the water as the boat capsized.

He was plucked from the sea by a rescue boat from the Gosport and Fareham Inshore Rescue Service (Gafirs).

The boat is owned by Rob Grantham, a fish merchant based at Old Portsmouth’s The Camber.

Mr Grantham said: ‘I just want to say a big thank you to the lifeboat crews for what they did.

‘At the moment we don’t know what happened and we won’t know until we get her up.

‘It seems water was taken on at the stern for some reason and by the time the problem was spotted it was too late.

‘Thankfully the fuel tanks are intact but it’s all a bit of a mystery at the moment.’

The boat is now about 13ft below the sea.

A spokesman for the Queen’s Harbour Master in Portsmouth said the boat will soon be salvaged.

Her fuel tanks are intact and there is no risk of pollution.

Mr Grantham hopes to restore the vessel once it has been retrieved.

The two fishermen on board the vessel were taken back to the Portsmouth RNLI station in Eastney after the incident on Sunday.

It happened at around 2.45pm.

RNLI and Gafirs crew members marked the position of the wreck and collected any debris.