One man has been pulled from the water and two are still missing after a fishing boat sank off the coast of East Sussex.
HM Coastguard scrambled a search and rescue helicopter after receiving an EPIRB distress beacon from fishing vessel Joanna C at 6am on Saturday.
The vessel had previously been damaged during the ‘scallop wars’ with French fishermen.
The rescue helicopter based at Lydd, Kent, was deployed along with two RNLI lifeboats based in Newhaven and Eastbourne to try to find the missing boat.
The RNLI is involved in a major search and rescue operation after a fishing boat with three crew sank at 6am off the East Sussex coast
A distress beacon on board the Joanna C, pictured, began broadcasting this morning three miles from Seaford, near Newhaven
The RNLI confirmed one man was rescued after he was found clinging to a lifebuoy. He has been transferred to hospital for treatment
The beacon’s signal put the vessel three nautical miles off the coast of Seaford, near Newhaven.
In an update at 10.30am, HM Coastguard said one man had been rescued from the water by the Newhaven RNLI lifeboat and has been transferred to hospital.
He was found clinging to a lifebuoy.
The vessel is owned by Derek Meredith and skippered by Nathan Clark.
The Joanna C is a 45ft scalloping vessel registered in Brixham, the Coastguard said, and three people were aboard when it sank.
The search continues for the two missing crewmen.
As well as the RNLI lifeboats, the Birling Gap Coastguard Rescue Team is checking for sightings from the shore.
A major search operation is underway looking for the two missing crewmen of the lost vessel
HM Coastguard units have been searching the shore in case the two missing crewmen made it ashore
Local fishing vessels have also joined the search for the missing crew members who were onboard the scallop fishing boat which sank at 6am today
Several fishing vessels have joined the RNLI on the search near Briling Gap in Sussex
Another fishing vessel close to the area is helping with the search, while the Coastguard rescue helicopter based in the Solent has been deployed to relieve the Kent-based aircraft.
HM Coastguard controller Piers Stanbury said: ‘Thankfully one of the three people on board at the time of sinking has been pulled out of the water and brought to shore by the Newhaven RNLI lifeboat but the intensive air and sea search for the two missing crew continues.
‘Debris has been located close to the location of the EPIRB alert location but no life raft has been found as yet.’
The Joanna C underwent a major refit in 2019 after its engine failed.
According to Fishing News, the as well as a new engine, the vessel was re modelled to allow it to remain at sea for up to a week.
As part of the nine-month refit, escape hatches were fitted in the accommodation area.
The 45ft vessel is designed to dredge scallops and has been involved in confrontations with French trawler men.
The coastguard confirmed debris has been found near where the EPIRB distress beacon began broadcasting. As well as the RNLI, Coastguard helicopters have been searching the area. As of yet, there has been no sign of a life raft
Last year the Joanna C, skippered by Nathan Clark, left, pictured beside crew mate Callum Clark, right, was surrounded by French trawlers off the coast of Normandy. The vessel suffered a broken window after French fishermen pelted it with objects
It comes after a chilling warning from British skippers that hostilities are worsening and a death is inevitable.
Fears were raised last month when two British boats clashed once again in the scallops conflict.
The battle over scallops in the English Channel has been escalating and French trawlers last month confronted British boats, firing flares and throwing frying pans.
In August, French and British fishermen were involved in a skirmish when around 40 French boats tried to stop British vessels from fishing 12 nautical miles off Normandy.
UK boats are permitted to fish in the scallop-rich area, but their presence rustled the French, who hold the British responsible for draining shellfish stocks.
It is not yet known if the ‘scallop wars’ is behind the sinking.
A major search and rescue operation was launched after the Joanna C’s emergency beacon began broadcasting at 6am
Last year, the crew of the Joanna C were left ‘extremely shaken’ by an early morning attack in the English Channel.
Fisherman said they tried to protect themselves from objects being thrown at them – while the French Navy just stood and watched.
Last month, two British boats, the Girl Macey and the Golden Promise, were involved in the deep-sea skirmish.
They were surrounded by around 20 French vessels and pelted by objects including frying pans and rocks.
French crews even threw oil before firing a flare at one ship.
Speaking at the time, Derek Meredith, owner of the Golden Promise said ‘When I heard about it I was very concerned, if that flare went into the wheel house the boat would have burned up, and would the French have helped?
‘The boat would sink and the French would just leave our boys to drown.
‘They shouldn’t be doing what they’re doing but they seem to get away with it every year.’