Lifeboat Crew Rescue Astronaut

Newhaven Lifeboat was called out to rescue a stranded schooner on Tuesday, only to find an astronaut on board. Read the RNLI statement.

Volunteers from Newhaven’s RNLI lifeboat station were launched on Tuesday 6th November at 17:02 to a 80 ton, twin masted eco-friendly ship “Ecolution” which had experienced fuel contamination in choppy conditions seven miles south of Newhaven.

The vessel's skipper shut down both engines and called coastguards for assistance. Newhaven’s all-weather Seven Class lifeboat ‘RNLB David and Elizabeth Acland arrived on scene with the stricken vessel at 17:37. A tow was established after about 30 minutes and the casualty, with eight crew on board, were slowly towed towards Newhaven.

The casualty vessel was safely taken into Newhaven harbour and moored alongside the East Quay at approximately 20:30.

The vessel owner Wubbo Johannes Ockels is a Dutch physicist and a former astronaut of the European Space Agency (ESA). In 1985 he participated in a flight on a space shuttle, making him the first Dutch citizen in space.

The Dutch media reported that Ockels had said “that the weather was very different to that predicted”. Lifeboat Coxswain Paul Legendre said “there was a moderate WSW wind and that the vessel had to be towed back slowly in the choppy conditions.”