Rescue helicopters, the Ramsgate lifeboat, a Dutch search and rescue helicopter and several merchant vessels helped in the operation off the Kent coast

The extensive search and rescue operation started after the cargo vessel, Fluvius Tamar, began sinking rapidly around 38 nautical miles off Ramsgate, Kent.

A Mayday was sent before the seven crew were forced to abandon the 295-foot vessel.

The cargo vessel which sank off Ramsgate

Fluvius Tamar in Casablanca in November 2015. Credit: Farid mernissi/Wikimedia Commons

The vessel sank so quickly that all seven men were in the water before managing to get into the ship’s life rafts.

The incident happened just before midnight on 13 January 2017.

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Weather conditions at the time were described as Force 9 north westerly winds.

The U.K. Coastguard search and rescue helicopters from Lydd and Lee-on-Solent, the RNLI all-weather lifeboat from Ramsgate, a Dutch search and rescue helicopter and several merchant vessels assisted in the rescue effort.

The all-weather lifeboat based at Ramsgate

Ramsgate all-weather lifeboat. Credit: RNLI/Russell Clark

The seven men were subsequently airlifted to hospital with potential hypothermia but no other serious injuries.

Speaking after the operation, the UK Coastguard duty commander, Steve Carson, said: “Following a MAYDAY broadcast from the sinking vessel, we sent multiple assets to the scene to rescue the crew who abandoned ship.”

“The weather on scene has been challenging but we are pleased to report that all the crew have been rescued and are on their way to hospital,” he added.

An investigation is now underway into the cause of the sinking.

Fluvius Tamas is Barbados flagged and was built in 2009.

It was on passage from The Netherlands to Estonia when it sank in 130-feet of water.

The site of the sinking is being monitored for pollution.