Two rescued as blaze engulfs Chichester yacht

Two people have been rescued from a Chichester-based after it burst into flames on Sunday (June 19).

The vessel’s skipper declared a mayday after seeing flames aboard the yacht when it was outside Portsmouth Harbour. At 3.55pm, Gosport Lifeboat was tasked by Solent Coastguard to attend.

The volunteer crew were training in Haslar Marina, when they heard the call for help and immediately started to make their way towards the casualty vessel.

Sign up to our daily SussexWorld Today newsletter

On scene within six minutes, they found the people on board, in lifejackets, standing on the outer edges of the vessel as flames started to take hold inside.

Gosport and Fareham Inshore Rescue Service

Two nearby yachts had also responded to the call and were standing by, but could not get close enough due the sea state and plumes of smoke.

Gosport Lifeboat quickly recovered both people to the safety of the lifeboat and then took the vessel under tow, away from the busy shipping channel and into shallower water.

Shortly after the tow commenced, flames from the engine room completely engulfed the cabin so Gosport Lifeboat crew deployed an anchor, with assistance from Bembridge RNLI Lifeboat, to prevent the vessel from drifting and becoming a greater hazard.Bembridge RNLI Lifeboat, took the casualties into the warmth of their cabin and returned them to Chichester Harbour, where the vessel had been based. Meanwhile Gosport Lifeboat remained on-scene to keep inquisitive passing vessels at a safe distance as flares and gas cylinders on board had started to explode.

Duty Coxswain Pete Byford said: “Thankfully we were on duty with the Lifeboat today and out training as it was only a matter of minutes from our arrival until the vessel was completely engulfed in flames.

"The crew on board the vessel had done everything they should: immediately calling for help, wearing their PPE equipment and being ready for the Lifeboat to arrive.”

After being full engulfed in the flames, the vessel eventually sank before it could be saved.

Gosport Lifeboat then assisted the tug in retrieving the fuel tanks, which had been carrying 1800 litres of diesel and other debris from the sunken vessel to minimise any environmental damage.