Solent Coastguard is coordinating the search for a Belgian fisherman after he went missing from his vessel, 15 miles south of Newhaven.

The skipper of the vessel Zilmermeeuw, a Belgian vessel with six people onboard, went missing whilst the crew were below deck having lunch. When the crew returned from their break, they found their skipper missing and contacted Solent Coastguard.

The Coastguard scrambled the Coastguard Rescue helicopter Mike Uniform and requested the Newhaven and Eastbourne RNLI lifeboats to launch. A request for help was broadcast simultaneously to all shipping and six fishing vessels and commercial vessels (four of them Belgian) responded and offered their assistance with the search. Mike Uniform is now returning and a second Coastguard helicopter Whiskey Bravo will begin a search.

Colin Griffiths, Solent Coastguard Watch Manager says:

We are very concerned for the well being of the skipper. The weather is inclement with westerly winds up to 23 knots, poor visibility, rain and sleet. We know that the skipper was not wearing a lifejacket or survival suit.