Littlehampton’s Atlantic 85 lifeboat Renée Sherman was launched yesterday afternoon within a few minutes of a radio request from Littlehampton coastguards who had just witnessed a powerboat sinking, with its occupants thrown into the water. The conditions in the harbour entrance were rough, the combination of the outgoing spring tide – the River Arun is one of the fastest flowing rivers in the country – and strong winds behind the tide caused rolling waves.

The situation had also been observed by the RNLI lifeguards at Littlehampton, who headed to the scene and recovered six of the seven occupants of the casualty vessel. The seventh was a young girl who was washed onto the West Works – the barnacle encrusted wooden structure on the west side of the harbour entrance. A lifeguard and two surfers who had also witnessed the scene were supporting the girl, awaiting the arrival of the lifeboat, which nosed in and recovered her onto the boat.

She was suffering from abrasions; there was concern that the buffeting might have caused further injury and that she may have taken on some seawater. The crew provided medical treatment and returned to the lifeboat station to await an ambulance. An ambulance also attended the other survivors, by now in the care of the coastguard rescue team and RNLI lifeguards.

The outcome was good, there were no serious injuries, and the job was a great example of co-operation between RNLI lifeboats, RNLI lifeguards and the Littlehampton coastguard rescue team.

This video was taken by Alexandu Zaharia who witnessed the incident and posted his footage on YouTube

Recovery of the vessel

Littlehampton lifeboat, and the D-Class inshore lifeboat Ray of Hope launched again to recover the partially submerged boat, which by now was drifting towards Rustington.

These images taken by local photographer Andy T Lee show lifeboat crews working with the Coastguard and RNLI lifeguards to recover the vessel.


A crew member discovers the wreckage. Photo: Andy T Lee



RNLI Crews and HMCG working together to  recover the boat. Photo: Andy T Lee