Dartmouth RNLI, the local fire service and the Coastguard participated in the rescue.

Emergency crews rescued 10 French fishermen trapped on fishing boats in Dartmouth Harbour this morning.

The dramatic rescue effort began just after midnight this morning with reports of two capsized fishing boats in trouble on the South Embankment on the River Dart.

According to the Dartmouth RNLI, three French trawlers from Cherbourg had sought shelter in Dartmouth Harbour from rough conditions at sea.


Two of them, the Sagittaire and the Saint Christophe,were tied up to the Town Quay and began listing severely as the water dropped during a low spring tide. There was a report of a fire on board one and both crews needed evacuation.

The Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service and the Maritime & Coastguard Agency were the first to arrive on the scene, and called for backup assistance at 12:35am.

Fire crews from Dartmouth, Paignton and Kingsbridge and a pump and a Command Unit from Totnes rescued the crew of the Saint Christophe by ladder and established that there was no fire.

The Dart inshore lifeboat evacuated three of the crew from the Sagittaire over the stern and then returned for the next two, one of whom had to be lowered from the transom with a rope.

The spring tide was at its lowest at 12.33am and it became apparent that the Saint Christophe was not re-righting herself as the tide came back in during the night.

According to an RNLI statement: “The lifeboat crew were asked to try and establish whether there was internal flooding in the vessel. They did so and found it to be severe.”

A boom has been set up around the capsized vessel.

Related links: 

Video: fishermen saved in dramatic rescue after boat fire

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