Missing fishing boat likely located in North Sea, still no sign of two sailors

Dutch water rescue organization KNRM
Dutch water rescue organization KNRMPhoto: Friedemeier/DepositPhotos

The Netherlands Coastguard launched a massive search for a fishing boat from Urk on the North Sea near Texel on Thursday morning. The Zr.Ms. Makkum, a naval ship designed to search for sea mines, searched the area around where the boat disappeared with its sonar equipment and most likely located it, the Coastguard said. But due to the bad weather conditions, divers can not yet be sent in to confirm. There were two people on board the boat when it disappeared.

The Coastguard center in Den Helder received an emergency alarm from the fishing vessel UK165, called Lummetje, at around 5:46 a.m. on Thursday. The alarm was sent from the Global Maritime Distress Safety System, which sends an alert when the beacon comes into contact with water, for example if a ship is sinking. The Lummetje was located about 7 kilometers west of Texel at the time.

The Coastguard immediately tried to contact the vessel, to no avail. A helicopter and multiple lifeboats from Netherlands rescue society KNRM were dispatched to the scene. The helicopter spotted a raft floating near the location, with no people on board. 

According to the Coastguard, the weather is currently very bad on the North Sea. At the time of the alarm, wind speed on Texel was averaging at about 38 kilometers per hour, with air temperature at the coast holding at about 9.5 degrees, according to data from meteorological institute KNMI. And waves of about 2 meters high are complicating the search for the missing sailors..

The search is happening in large numbers. In addition to the KNRM lifeboats and the Zr.Ms. Makkum, the Coastguard also deployed a plane and two helicopters. A number of other ships that were nearby also rushed to the search location.

Lummetje left the Den Helder port at 3:45 p.m. on Wednesday, according to marinetraffic.com. The boat is a 19.5-meters fishing cutter that was built in 1986. It sails under the Dutch flag.

The vessel was sailing back and forth along the Noord-Holland coast between Sint Maartenszee in the south and Den Hoorn, Texel in the north. Its journey was consistently at a speed of about 4 knots, or about 7.5 km/h. It was traveling at about that speed when the alarm was received by the Coastguard, according to the site.