The all-weather Mersey class lifeboat Eleanor and Bryant Girling was launched at 3.20pm and reached the casualty vessel an hour later. Weather conditions at the time were calm but cold with excellent visibility.
Communications were made with the skipper and it was agreed that the best option was for the lifeboat to tow the boat back to the port of Kilkeel.
While the tow got underway at a slow speed of four knots and with 15 miles to go, the estimated time of arrival in Kilkeel was approximately 8.30pm.
However, due to size of the vessel and the tide ebbing, the lifeboat crew were not able to enter the harbour until 1am.
At 12.30am it was decided to launch Kilkeel RNLI’s inshore lifeboat to assist with the manoeuvring of the fishing vessel into the tight harbour entrance. Shortly after 1.20am the vessel was alongside the quay and handed over to Kilkeel Coastguard rescue team.
Speaking following the callout, Newcastle RNLI volunteer lifeboat press officer Nathan Leneghan said: “This was the first callout of the year for Newcastle RNLI and we were delighted to help bring the fishing crew to safety.
“This was a long and challenging callout due to the tide and size of the boat but we worked with the conditions and with the support of colleagues from Kilkeel RNLI were able to bring the boat to safety.
“We would remind anyone taking to sea to always respect the water. Check weather and tide times before you leave and always let someone ashore know when you are leaving and when you are due back. Always wear a lifejacket and always carry a means of calling or signalling for help should you get into difficulty.”