DUNKIRK LITTLE SHIP SINKS ON THE THAMES
RNLI IN DRAMATIC RESCUE

 
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A Dunkirk Little Ship has sunk on the Thames after being caught by strong currents on the flooded river - at the very spot where boats gathered for the 1940 Channel crossing.

The 32 foot Tantalus was being moored to a pontoon near Teddington lock when it was caught by the force of the water and spun round. 

A man and woman from the boat are both safe. And in a climax to the near-tragedy, a Teddington RNLI lifeboat crew member leapt aboard the bow of the sinking vessel and plucked a cat to safety, moments before the boat was broken apart by the force of the river.
 
Marc Evans, volunteer lifeboat crew member with Teddington RNLI, explained what happened: “‘The river was in flood tide at the time and it seems the boat fell victim to that when the owner attempted to moor up on a pontoon. With the bow facing upstream, the couple tied the rear of the boat to the pontoon but, before they could secure the front , the sheer force of the tide caught the front and started to spin it round.

“Because it was tethered at the back it acted as a pivot, and as the tension on the line caught it ripped the back of the boat off. It was a fairly old boat and had a timber hull, and once it came away water just flooded straight in and she started going under.”

Marc explained that the female passenger was stood on the moorings with one of their cats when the incident happened, but the man stayed onboard to search for the remaining pet. However, the water level soon reached him and he was forced to swim back to the mooring empty handed.

Marc continued: ‘The boat began drifting downstream and came to rest at the head of another pontoon. We launched the lifeboat and as we got to her the only part of the boat left above water was part of the bow with a motorbike tethered to it, but an observer informed us that one cat was still on board.’

Marc leapt aboard the boat to search for the cat. Fellow volunteer lifeboat crew member Jonathan Barker spotted the frightened animal and Marc plucked her to safety and took her aboard the lifeboat:

“The cat was obviously very scared, wet through and shaking, and the owners were so relieved when we handed it over. It was just in time too because moments later the tide twisted the boat around and it broke up completely, scattering the couple’s belongings in the river.’

Police and ambulance crews were also on hand .

Malcolm Miatt, who lives nearby and runs ‘The Boat Shop’ in Teddington, saw events unfold from his living room. He said: ‘It all happened so quickly, in a matter of seconds the couple went from a run-of-the-mill mooring up to complete chaos. I was on the phone to my accountant at the time and I just said I had to go because there was something big happening on the river.

“It’s ironic that Tantalus was one of the Dunkirk little ships, and she went down in the very same place that all the little ships mustered back in 1940 before heading to Ramsgate and across the channel. A fitting, if very sad, finale to her seafaring life.”

Story dated June 15th 2012


   
       
     

SS ROBIN

 
VIDEO OF THE INCIDENT
   
     
ADLS

Dunkirk Little Ship Tantalus Pic:ADLS

 
NARROW BOAT TRAPPED
ON WEIR

In another incident on the non-tidal Thames a narrow boat was pinned against piles at Bell Weir near Staines.
More details at Get Surrey website
   
 
       

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