Stornoway Coastguard chopper winches 14 to safety

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STORNOWAY Coastguard search and rescue helicopter air-lifted 14 French fishermen to safety after their vessel ran aground last night – only hours after Maritime and Coastguard Chief Executive Sir Alan Massey had visited the island station to discuss possible MCA closures, writes Eilidh Whiteford.

FV Jack Abry II had been at sea for just under 10 hours before it struck rocks at low tide on the north west coast of the Isle of Rum yesterday (Monday, January 31).

Listing heavily in the moderate swell with a west/south westerly wind force seven to eight, the crew of the stricken trawler prepared themselves in survival suits as a Mayday call was sent out, received by Stornoway coastguard station at 11.23pm.

Mallaig RNLI lifeboat launched to the aid of the Jack Abry II at 11.46pm and the Stornoway MCA search and rescue helicopter airlifted off at 12.26am, arriving on the scene at 1am.

Within 20 minutes of arrival, the chopper crew had airlifted all 14 fishermen to safety, and returned them to Stornoway airport, where they were met by the Fishermens Mission’s Port Missioner Finlay Macleod.

Although suffering from mild exposure, the fishing crew were uninjured and have been provided emergency accommodation in the Caladh Inn, Stornoway.

Speaking of the incident, Jack Abry II skipper Xavier Leaute said: “The men are okay and that is principle for me. “We want to thank you to all the crew of the coastguard and the lifeboat as it was a very big wind to winch up in. It was very difficult for the helicopter. We say very much thank you.”

For the full story of the dramatic rescue, see this week’s Stornoway Gazette, out on Thursday, February 3.