A DRAMATIC rescue operation was carried out to take the crew of a sinking trawler to safety in the Bristol Channel yesterday (Thursday, August 17).

Burnham-on-Sea RNLI crew were paged to the sinking 48-foot modified trawler at 7.30am today to reports it was taking on water adjacent to Hinkley Point.

The casualty vessel was apparently en route from Watchet Harbour to Portishead, when ingress of water was discovered.

The two-man crew immediately called ‘Pan Pan’ over their radio, which was quickly escalated to a ‘Mayday’ call by Milford Haven Coastguard control.

Apart from Burnham-on-Sea, Barry Dock offshore lifeboat was called out, and a helicopter scrambled.

The Burnham Atlantic lifeboat was speedily launched by the shore crew volunteers, and made it’s way to the casualty.

The lifeboat crew soon discovered the casualty craft some way off Hinkley Point.

Because of the Mayday call, there were other craft also in the vicinity.

A lifeboat crew member was landed on the vessel, along with the lifeboat salvage pump, as the craft’s engine room was still taking on water, and the vessel’s pumps were apparently non-functional.

The salvage pump was not making headway and the craft was settling lower in the water.

By this time, Barry Dock lifeboat had arrived on scene, and the two casualty crew had been taken off while efforts continued to reduce the level of water in the engine room.

The measures were not effective, and the vessel by this time was not towable, sinking lower in the water.

The Burnham crewmember was taken off along with the salvage pump and Barry Dock made arrangements to watch over the vessel until it sank completely.

The rescued crew being very cold, were then transferred from Barry Dock to the Burnham Lifeboat, and were taken back to Burnham-on-Sea Lifeboat Station for aftercare.

Burnham lifeboat helmsman Scott Rundle said: "We put a crewmember aboard the casualty vessel with our station salvage pump.

"By this time the water was rising faster in the engine room, and the vessel was not recoverable."