Huffpost UK uk

Search Called Off For Missing Man After Thames Tugboat Sinks

Posted: Updated:
TUGBOAT
PA

PRESS ASSOCIATION -- A search for a crew member missing after a tug capsized and sank on the River Thames in London has been called off as marine accident experts began an investigation into the accident.

Two other crew members were safely rescued after the tug, called Chieftain and which was towing a barge with a crane on it, went down off Greenwich Pier in south London just before 11am.

A major search-and-rescue operation was launched for the missing crewman, with efforts being co-ordinated by the Woolwich-based London coastguard.

But about four hours after the sinking the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) said the search, involving police, the Port of London Authority, the fire brigade and lifeboat crews, had been called off. The section of the river around Greenwich Pier had been closed while the search went on.

The MCA said: "The Port of London Authority (PLA) is beginning the first stages of an operation to raise the sunken tug. Depending on the circumstances, this will be carried out by PLA or by a salvage contractor.

"The Marine Accident Investigation Branch have begun an investigation into the causes of the accident. The incident is also being investigated by the MCA survey and inspection branch."

At the scene of the accident, a second tug boat, which river workers said was also attached to the barge, was still afloat and activity could be seen on deck.

One passer-by who witnessed the sinking said: "All the boats in the area scrambled and were searching for the third man. As the minutes dragged on, I started to fear the worst. It was terrible watching and not being able to help."

The sinking follows the death on the Thames last week of Ben Woollacott, 19, a crewman on the Woolwich Ferry. He fell from the ferry and under its propeller while mooring ropes were being untied.

Transport for London said the Woolwich Ferry will be suspended on Monday as staff will be paying their respects at Mr Woollacott's funeral. Thames River Services and Crown River Cruises are also suspending services on Monday.