The Tower RNLI crew staged a dramatic rescue on the river near HMS Belfast rescuing a man trapped under a barge in a fast-ebbing tide.

The lifeboat crew were quickly on scene where a Thames passenger vessel Cyclone Clipper was in the vicinity and able to indicate that the man was clinging to the upstream side of a driftwood collecting barge, a permanently moored vessel which filters rubbish and debris floating on the surface of the river.

Lifeboat helmsman Chris Walker said: ‘The barge’s bow faces the flow of tide and the rubbish is filtered through a basket which collects it.  The casualty was in a very precarious position indeed.

" There was a 2-3 knot tide running at the time of the call, had it been a faster spring tide, he could very easily have been sucked under or even into the collecting hopper where among the rubbish and debris it would have been very hard to get him out.

"I managed to helm the lifeboat close enough to the overhanging edge of the barge, so that my colleagues Stuart Morrison and Stephen Wheatley could grab hold of him.

While we were assessing his condition, he suggested that there was someone else in the water. So after quickly handing him over to a waiting ambulance at St Katherine Docks, we were joined by the police boat, London Fire brigade boat and a police helicopter in an extensive search of the area.’

After a thorough search, and further investigation into the cause of the incident, the rescue services were confident that there was no second person missing.





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