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Royal Navy saves lives of six French fishermen

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Royal Navy saves lives of six French fishermen
British Royal Navy saves French fishermen from a sinking trawler. Photo: Screen grab/LCI
11:12 CET+01:00
French and British seamen have shown little love for each other over the years but at the weekend the British Royal Navy showed differences can be put aside when it saved the lives of six Breton sailors, who were trapped in a sinking trawler in stormy seas.

A group of French fisherman who were aboard the 22-metre trawler Le Sillon got into trouble in the Irish Sea not far off the Cornish coast over night on Saturday as stormy weather battered the region.

According to the president of a Breton shipyard cooperative, Dominique Faou, the sailors were not actually fishing, but just trying to sit out the storm until better weather allowed them to return home.  

But as they waited anxiously the ship was repeatedly battered by giant waves as the storm refuised to relent.

One wave of nine-ten metres high—called "a villain"—literally decapitated the bridge and the rest happened very quickly, French daily Le Télégramme reported. The ship had lost all power, had no engine and no radio but a member of the crew managed to telephone for help.

A Royal Navy helicopter quickly arrived on the scene, but in order for the fisherman to be rescued they had to first jump into the roiling sea. They then had to grab a cable that hoisted them into the helicopter and out of danger.

Le Sillon’s captain Pierre-Marie Briand stayed with the trawler during the rescue and the boat eventually foundered with him still aboard. But after a couple of tense minutes of searching, a rescuer from the Royal Navy spotted him and also pulled him from the water. 

All six fishermen were then taken to a Royal Navy base in Culhouse where all the men were said to be safe and sound. 

See video of what the trawler looked like after it washed ashore (FYI: Video is in French)

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