‘Nothing found’ in search for man overboard on Wightlink ferry

An extensive search has been carried out of the area around Portsmouth Harbour following reports of a man overboard from a ferry earlier on Wednesday (August 29).

A spokesman for HM Coastguard said: “Despite a thorough and comprehensive search by two RNLI lifeboats from Portsmouth, HM Coastguard’s search and rescue helicopter from Lee-on-Solent, Hillhead and Portsmouth Coastguard Rescue Teams and other vessels in the area, nothing has been found.

“The search has now been suspended, pending further information. It is now a missing person enquiry and will be handed over to the police.”

A spokesman for Wightlink said: “On the 10.30am St Cecilia car ferry from Portsmouth to Fishbourne a passenger was seen to jump overboard, just outside Portsmouth Harbour.

“The crew of St Cecilia deployed the ship’s rescue boat and the Coastguard is now the lead authority on this matter, with a number of vessels assisting in the search.

“St Cecilia is still in the area of the incident while authorities are trying to recover the person, with customers on board.”

Bembridge RNLI search for missing person – photo by James Pink

A spokesman for Bembridge RNLI said: “‘RNLB Alfred Albert Williams’ (Tamar All-Weather Lifeboat 16-17) was launched at 11.55am this morning in response to a request from UK (Solent) Coastguard to assist and act as the on-scene commander in the ongoing search for a ‘man overboard’ close to the entrance of Portsmouth Harbour.

“Two MOD Police launches, Portsmouth RNLI’s Atlantic 85 & D-Class lifeboats, the Coastguard helicopter (Rescue 175), local Coastguard teams and a number of other vessels were involved.

“After a detailed and thorough search both outside and inside the harbour failed to locate the missing person, the search was scaled down and the ‘Alfred Albert Williams’ was released to return to Bembridge; she was back in the Boathouse by 2.30pm.”

A Wightlink spokesman said: “Wightlink staff have been saddened to learn the search for a man who jumped from the Portsmouth to Fishbourne car ferry St Cecilia this morning as it left Portsmouth Harbour has been suspended, pending further information.

“Passengers on board the 10.30am sailing to Fishbourne, who witnessed the incident, alerted the crew.

“The captain of St Cecilia immediately launched the ship’s rescue boat. Several other vessels joined the search.

“This is now a missing person inquiry, led by Hampshire Police.”