Chiswick RNLI Lifeboat Rescues 36 Ton Barge

Fast response prevents a minor incident turning into a major one

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On Tuesday afternoon, 22 March, Chiswick RNLI Lifeboat was on exercise in the Brentford area when the crew were tasked to a report of a vessel that had lost power and was drifting near Hammersmith Bridge. On arrival they found a large Dutch barge drifting beam-on in the centre of the river near Crabtree Wharf. The engine had stalled and would not re-start; it also appeared the vessel was unable to deploy its anchor.

Helmsman Gary Tiller decided to place crewman Craig Burn on the stricken vessel, who then arranged the tow line with the crewman Peter Knight. Chiswick RNLI Lifeboat was able to tow the 36 ton barge against the strong ebb tide under Hammersmith Bridge to its mooring at Dove Pier. Due to the size of the vessel and the strong tide, Chiswick’s relief lifeboat was also launched to assist with berthing the vessel onto its mooring. A Marine Police vessel was also in attendance to assist if required.

Chiswick RNLI lifeboat Station Manager Wayne Bellamy commented “It was fortunate that the barge, drifting without power, passed under Hammersmith Bridge without causing any damage. The barge was floating towards Putney with many rowers and other river users out on the water on a fine day; if the Lifeboat had not halted its progress speedily, the incident could have become very grave. Towing a 36 ton vessel is well within the capabilities of the RNLI E-class Lifeboat that is used on the Thames, this rescue also demonstrated the need for fast response to prevent a minor incident turning into a major one.”

David Clarke


March 24, 2011