A major search operation off the coast of Jersey for a sunken fishing vessel which had three people on board has been suspended overnight.
A captain and two crew members were on the Jersey fishing boat when it collided with the Commodore Goodwill ship just after 5.30am on Thursday.
Specialist diving resources were required to help in the search-and-rescue effort after the boat sank in around 40-metre deep water, Jersey’s Harbourmaster Bill Sadler said.
Giving an update to reporters on Thursday afternoon, he said local fishing vessels had also been helping with the search and that drones and beach lifeguards on jet skis had been deployed.
He said: “The vessel is believed to have sunk in approximately 40 metres of water, which will require specialist diving resource to examine.”
Freight driver Richard Henry, who was onboard the Commodore Goodwill at the time of the collision, described the emergency announcement in the immediate wake of the crash.
He told ITV: “We heard five long blasts on the horn and then a big bang. Then an announcement from the captain, ‘this is not a drill, this is not a drill, man overboard, all crew to action stations’.
“Then I went outside and had a look, and could just see the tail end of, I think it was a 66ft French trawler, but we just see the tail end of that just disappearing out of sight.
“Then had a word with the crew and he said ‘yeah, there’s one man definitely still being looked for’. They’re not sure about the other two because there was three people on the boat at the time.”
Announcing suspension of the search overnight, Jersey Coastguard said those involved will “regroup before first light” on Friday to “consider the findings of the search by the remote operation vehicle (the uncrewed underwater craft) before deciding how to proceed”.
The coastguard said commercial shipping has been rerouted eastbound around the island to avoid the search area and urged anyone who finds debris on beaches to note where they find it and call 01534 447705 to report it.
Among those involved in the search were the RNLI’s inshore and all-weather lifeboats, two French rescue helicopters, Guernsey’s RNLI all-weather lifeboat, a French naval fixed-wing aircraft, Channel Island Air Search, Ports of Jersey’s pilot boat, and the Government of Jersey’s Fisheries rib.