Coastguard end search for fishermen missing off Sussex coast

A search for two fishermen, who went missing after their fishing boat sank off the coast of Newhaven, has now ended, the coastguard has confirmed.

The Joanna C fishing vessel sank at about 6am on Saturday (November 21) with three crew members on board.

One of the men was found clinging to a lifebuoy on Saturday morning and was rescued by Newhaven Coastguard. He was flown to hospital by air ambulance.

Sign up to our daily SussexWorld Today newsletter

A search for the other two men continued until 11pm on Saturday when it was suspended.

A large-scale rescue mission was launched after a fishing boat sank near Newhaven. Photo: Eddie Mitchell

It resumed at first light on Sunday morning (November 22), with the parameters extended to Beachy Head, in Eastbourne, but, at about 2.30pm, the search was called off without the two men being found.

A spokesman for the coastguard said: “HM Coastguard confirmed that the search which resumed at 7.30am Sunday morning, has now finished at 2.30pm.

“Units helping with the search today included Newhaven and Eastbourne RNLI lifeboats and Eastbourne and Birling Gap Coastguard Rescue Teams as well as local fishing vessels.

“Sadly nothing further has been found today.”

A Coastguard helicopter joined the search. Photo: Eddie Mitchell

A GoFundMe page, set up on Saturday evening to help the families of all three men, has raised more than £3,000.

A post on the page says: “The Joanna C is a 45ft scalloping vessel registered in Brixham. The names of those on the boat will not be released until the authorities have publicly named the three men.

“All three men have families who are now being comforted by those in the fishing community. We have set this charity page up to allow people to donate and help with the financial aspects of the incident today.

“We are also using this page to allow you to leave messages for the three families involved who will be comforted by your words and thoughts.”

A large-scale rescue mission was launched after a fishing boat sank near Newhaven. Photo: Eddie Mitchell

A large number of rescue units were involved in the search on Saturday and Sunday, including Eastbourne and Newhaven RNLI lifeboats, two Coastguard rescue helicopters, the Coastguard fixed wing aircraft and Birling Gap and Beachy Head Coastguard Rescue Teams. Also helping with this search were 12 other vessels including many fishing vessels in the area which responded to the Coastguard broadcasts and have been helping with the search at sea.

On Saturday evening, Chris Thomas, Deputy Director of HM Coastguard said: “HM Coastguard’s National Maritime Operations Centre has coordinated a major rescue effort today (Saturday, November 21), with many units searching tirelessly since first light and finding one casualty who has been recovered safely to hospital.

“Sadly two other crewmen have not yet been found and all our thoughts are with their families and friends. It is testament to the local maritime community that HM Coastguard were so admirably supported throughout the day by nearby vessels and the local fishing communities who joined us in force and made strenuous efforts to locate their colleagues during the search. At one point, Coastguard coordinators described tracking 14 vessels covering the search plan area including the two RNLI all weather lifeboats at sea.”

A major search operation is continuing off the coast in East Sussex this morning, more than 24 hours after a fishing boat sank with three people on board. Photo: Eddie Mitchell