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Two sailors missing after three are rescued in North Sea by passing cruise ship

9:25 am, 26th August 2018

Three of the fishermen were rescued from a life raft by a cruise ship, prompting passengers to applaud as they were brought on board.

Crew on the Pacific Princess lowered a ladder to the men after the captain responded to a distress flare in the North Sea, about 25 miles off the Norfolk coast.

Passenger Teena Dowd said the captain made an announcement about the life raft at around 6.30pm and soon after the three men climbed up the side of the ship.

At one point, one of the men fell into the water as he tried to scale the ladder and had to be pulled back into the emergency inflatable before trying again.

Ms Dowd, from near Toronto, Canada, said: “Originally they didn’t think we were going to be able to rescue them.

“The captain announced we were just going to float next to them so they were blocked from the wind until the coastguard got here, but then they were able to get close enough that they were able to climb up our ship.

“We were on the very top deck, and people were just sort of holding their breath, everybody was anxious because we all, at the time, thought there was only three of them and everybody clapped when they came on the ship.

“But we didn’t know until a while later, when the captain announced that there was actually two more and we were still searching for them.”

After two hours of continuing to search, the cruise ship continued to Dover and the Coastguard remained, co-ordinating the hunt.

A search and rescue helicopter from Humberside, RNLI lifeboats from Gorleston, an independent lifeboat from Caister and other vessels are involved in the search.

Coastguard operations controller for the east coast Lee Duncan said: “The crew of the sunken fishing vessel are all foreign nationals.

“We know that the three recovered men had been in the life raft for four hours before they were spotted by the cruise ship.

“We believe the two missing crew were seen to enter the water. This is an ongoing incident and we have no further information at this time.”

The Pacific Princess, owned by Princess Cruises, had been on a cruise around the British Isles at the time and was on its way back to Dover.