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Dramatic rescue of ill passenger from cruise ship caught in stormy seas off Northumberland

The winchman is lowered from the helicopter in this picture taken from the HM Coastguard video of the rescue.
The winchman is lowered from the helicopter in this picture taken from the HM Coastguard video of the rescue.

An unwell passenger on board a cruise ship pitching violently in high seas off the Northumberland coast has sparked a dramatic rescue.

HM Coastguard were called just after 12.45pm on Thursday (March 15) to help the woman who urgently needed hospital treatment.

The Coastguard's search and rescue helicopter based at Humberside, with four team members aboard, responded to the call and made its way to the ship which was 50 miles off the Northumberland coast.

When the crew arrived on the scene, high waves were crashing into the ship, the wind was strong and visibility was poor, making the rescue all the more challenging, as this video shows.

A paramedic winchman was lowered onto the deck to treat the casualty and, with the help of the ship's crew, she was secured onto a stretcher and winched into the aircraft. She was then taken to James Cook Hospital in Middlesbrough. The cruise ship was then able to resume its planned course.

Co-pilot and Senior First Officer of the HM Coastguard Humberside helicopter James Bullock said: “This proved to be a challenging rescue due to the adverse weather conditions.

Nearly there - the winchman can be seen almost level with the deck.

Nearly there - the winchman can be seen almost level with the deck.

"The transit was hampered by poor visibility but once on scene the sea state of around 6 meters and 35 kt winds created significant movement on the vessel which made for a tricky winch recovery.

"Thankfully, with the assistance of the ship's crew tending the hi-line, and patience, as we waited for the largest of the waves to subside, the casualty was recovered safely and quickly transported to hospital.”

Made it - the winchman lands on the deck.

Made it - the winchman lands on the deck.

The casualty is secured to a stretcher before being winched up to the helicopter.

The casualty is secured to a stretcher before being winched up to the helicopter.

The ship pitches into a big wave.

The ship pitches into a big wave.