Red Funnel ferries, Cowes and Calshot RNLI lifeboats, Police launches, tugs and the Coastguard Rescue Helicopter from Lee-on-Solent are currently working together to locate at least one missing sailor.
Other sailors on board the capsized vessel – a small tug named Asterix – have been successfully rescued and taken to safety.
The captain and crew of the Red Eagle car ferry announced at around 20:10 that they were turning the boat around as they neared Southampton to respond to the emergency and have since launched a search boat with two crew members on board.
At 20:20 an RNLI lifeboat from Cowes was launched to assist the operation alongside Calshot RNLI lifeboat. Both remain on scene off Fawley.
Red Funnel have advised the 21:00 sailing will be delayed as a result of the search and rescue operation.
UPDATE @ 21:07 – The capsized boat has been identified as the year-old 13m small tug ‘Asterix’ based at Fawley Oil Terminal.
The search continues, with Red Jet 4 joining the effort.
UPDATE @ 21:30 – Red Eagle has been released from the search and rescue operation and is now on its way to dock in Southampton.
Red Funnel have advised the 21:00 sailing from Southampton and the 22:30 from East Cowes will be delayed by approx 1 hours.
A second crew member has also been recovered from the water to the lifeboat and has been transferred to hospital. All crew have now been accounted for and the search, which also involved Lymington RNLI lifeboat, has finished.
Coastguard Rescue Teams from Southampton and Lymington were also involved in the operation from land.
The vessel remains capsized and sunk and weather conditions on scene tonight are strong winds and poor visibility. There is no reported pollution on scene tonight.
The tug capsized and subsequently began to sink just off the Esso oil refinery pontoon.
One crew member of the Asterix managed to jump clear and swim to safety, leaving one man still unaccounted for.
The RNLI lifeboats from Cowes, Lymington and Calshot undertook a co-ordinated search of the windswept waters, using their powerful searchlights. One lifeboat crew banged on the hull of the Asterix, still visible at this stage above the water, but received no response.
A Fawley emergency employee who was watching the capsized vessel from the pontoon then just glimpsed an arm in a small pocket of air behind a window. Without hesitation the employee leapt into the water, smashed the window and extracted the trapped crew member. Two RNLI crew members from Calshot lifeboat jumped into the water to assist the casualty and his rescuer – they were recovered to the lifeboat and taken to the jetty.
Both the rescuer and rescued, plus the man who had swum clear earlier, received immediate emergency care from the attending paramedics and RNLI crew members training in casualty care. All three men were then taken by ambulance to hospital.
Photographs thanks to Cowes RNLI