Thursday, March 30, 2023
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Exclusive: Fishing boat crashes into Newhaven port under control of the border force

Photos shared with Sussex News show a fishing vessel being escorted into Newhaven harbour by the Border Force, ramming into the harbours Pontoon in a forceful head-on collision.

The ‘Opportune’, was en route from Brixham to Shoreham with three crew members on board, was unable to anchor after a failure of the steering gear.

The fishing vessel was led from the Rampion wind farm by the Border Force vessel ‘Alert’. Border Force officers were on-board the ‘Opportune’ at the time of the collision.

An onlooker described to Sussex News how once within The Narrows of Newhaven Harbour the crew appears to have lost control of Opportune. The vessel Alert circled a few times within the harbour without taking control of Opportune.

The Port Authority called on VHF Channel 12 and asked “You are going to damage our Harbour. What are your intentions?”. The ‘Opportune’ then ran into the East Pier.

The Port Authority launched, Pilot Vessel “Magnus Musson” but before it could take control Opportune rammed the Rampion Pontoon “head-on and forcefully”. The onlookers report how the Border Force officers on board ‘Opportune’ were seen having to brace themselves for impact.

‘Musson’, the Pilot Vessel was subsequently able to take control and push Opportune into a stable position.

Martin Sinnock, a local resident who watched the chaos unfold told Sussex News: “The question I think we are all asking is “Why did the Border Force not tow Opportune into Port when they knew it had lost Communications.

“They had a Border Force vessel, two Rampion Windcats, two Port Pilot boats, a Port Work vessel, and an RNLI Lifeboat – all available to tow.

“Also – we do not know why the Border Force were on-board the Offshore Wind Guard vessel.”

A Home Office spokesperson told Sussex news: “We do not routinely comment on operational matters.

Sussex police were also seen searching the crew, Sussex police told Sussex news that it was a border force-led investigation.

Photo: Alan FRASER

Website “Shipping tracker’ said:
“Sun Feb 26 15:08:52 CET 2023 Timsen
“The ‘Opportune’, en route from Brixham to Shoreham with three crew member son board, was unable to anchor after a failure of the steering gear in pos. 50 43 17 N, 000 12 54 W on Feb 25, 2023, at 08.45 a.m. UTC. Towing assistance was required by the Newhaven Harbour Master once the steering defects have been properly repaired. The border force and police search vessel attended during the afternoon.”

Border force officers along with members of Sussex Police were later seen onboard the fishing vessel.

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