The skipper of the Tres Hombres had to ask for help to be towed into the river Tyne after the ship's motor launch broke down, leaving one of the world's only engineless cargo ships stranded

One of the world’s only engineless cargo ships, Tres Hombres, had to be towed into the river Tyne at North Shields after the vessel became stranded.

The wooden sailing vessel is usually accompanied by its own motor launch which helps maneouver the ship into port.

But, on this occasion, the boat’s engine had broken down.

The incident happened yesterday morning (4 June).

Initially, the crew of the Cullercoats RNLI lifeboat towed the motor launch back to the 128-tonne Tres Hombres.

The skipper of the 32-metre Brigantine-type sailing ship then asked for assistance in getting his vessel to a safe harbour, as very strong winds were forecast.

Following discussion with the UK Coastguard, it was agreed to tow the ship into the river Tyne.

The crew of the Tynemouth RNLI’s all weather lifeboat were requested to launch at 10.44 and made best speed to the Tres Hombres, which was anchored off Whitley Bay with Cullercoats RNLI lifeboat standing by.

Once the lifeboat met the sailing ship the volunteer crew quickly got her under tow, while a crew member went on board to ensure the tow ropes remained secure.

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The Tres Hombres and her crew of 15 were then taken to North Shields Western Quay without further incident, escorted by Cullercoats RNLI lifeboat who put two crew members ashore on the quay to assist with mooring.

Once the sailing vessel was made fast on the quay, the lifeboats returned to their respective stations.

Commenting on the incident, a spokesman for Tynemouth RNLI lifeboat, Adrian Don, said: ‘This is one of the most unusual services our volunteer crew members have carried out and the casualty vessel is unique as the world’s only engineless sailing cargo ship.”

“The Tres Hombres and her crew were in no immediate danger but having no engine and with her launch broken down, they had no means of safely getting into harbour and with very poor weather expected her skipper had no alternative but to ask for assistance,” he continued.

“Our volunteers were happy to help and quickly got the vessel into the shelter of the Tyne harbour,” he added.