Rescuers battle to save stricken fishing boat

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The Independent Online

Rescuers battled through mountainous seas to reach a stricken fishing boat with a crew of seven in the Atlantic about 250 miles west of the Hebrides.

Rescuers battled through mountainous seas to reach a stricken fishing boat with a crew of seven in the Atlantic about 250 miles west of the Hebrides.

The Audacious, registered in Banff, north east Scotland, has broadcast a Mayday message early today but it was not immediately known if any of her seven-strong crew was injured.

An RAF Nimrod aircraft was flying to the scene after Coastguard received a distress call shortly before 5am and subsequent communications established that the boat's wheelhouse had been smashed in.

Other vessels and fishing boats in the area were making their way towards the Audacious which had requested a tow - but a Coastguard spokesman said the nearest vessel was 30 away. The damaged craft had engine power but no electrical power.

The weather was said to have reached severe gale conditions and be approaching storm force 10 with a 12-foot swell.

A spokesman for Clyde Coastguard, which was coordinating the operation, said: "A Nimrod from RAF Kinloss has proceeded towards the scene and has made intermittent communication in which it was established that major damage has been sustained to the wheelhouse.

"It is not yet known if any injuries have been sustained.

"The vessel still has power but it has requested a tow. The Coastguard rescue helicopter has been put on alert and is currently looking into the feasibility of attending the scene.

"However the distance is at maximum range for the helicopter and may not allow this.

"We remain concerned for the safety of the vessel."

The craft was believed to be near Rockall in the Atlantic, around 250 miles west of the Hebrides.

Clyde coastguard said Audacious was only launched last year and was well equipped.

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