NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

Fishermen rescued from boat fire off Fraserburgh

The Vardborg being towed. RNLI photo
Image caption The fishing boat was towed into harbour by Peterhead lifeboat

The crew of a fishing boat had to be rescued after a fire broke out in the vessel's engine room.

The 14 crew members of the Faroese-registered Vardborg were about six miles off Fraserburgh when the alarm was raised at about 0025 BST.

An RAF Lossiemouth helicopter, lifeboat and standby vessels were called in.

But due to the 40,000 litres of fuel on board, a decision was made to tow the 38m boat to Peterhead harbour for fire crews to tackle the blaze.

Image caption The Vardborg got into difficulties in the early hours of the morning

Aberdeen Coastguard said the fishermen had managed to contain the fire, activated the on-board fire fighting systems and had attempted to extinguish it with halon gas.

Non-essential crew were preparing to board life rafts in the event that the situation worsened.

Peterhead lifeboat began towing the vessel into Peterhead at about 0125 BST, with the Fraserburgh lifeboat acting as an escort, where it was met by local fire crews, the Peterhead coastguard rescue team and the harbour tug.

However, during the tow the helicopter crew discovered, through its thermal imaging camera, that the fire had gone out.

George Downie, Aberdeen Coastguard watch manager, said: "With the amount of fuel oil on board this fishing boat, this was an extremely risky rescue that needed to be undertaken with the safety of not only the crew on the fishing boat, but also those on board the lifeboat, helicopter and nearby vessels in mind.

"The safest option was certainly to allow the lifeboat to take the vessel under tow to an isolated berth in a local port, where the crew could be removed and local fire crews could ascertain whether the fire had been extinguished."

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