RNLI volunteers rescued two fishing boats on one call out this afternoon.

Sunderland RNLI was initially called out to help the crew of a fishing boat which had broken down, but came across a second fishing boat which had become lost in thick fog one mile off the coast.

The rescue mission was launched shortly after 4.40pm when Coastguard officers based at Humber Coastguard Marine Rescue Co-ordination Centre received a 999 call from the crew stating that their vessel was drifting after losing power in thick fog.

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A lifeboat was launched and was joined by a shore-based Coastguard Rescue Team from Sunderland.

Paul Nicholson, Senior Helmsman at Sunderland RNLI, said: "Our initial search plan was to travel out to sea one mile and then search to the south.

"With visibility being restricted to less than 50 metres we were relying purely on our radar equipment to locate the stricken vessel."

While searching the area, the crew came across a second boat and after speaking to the crew it became clear that they had become disorientated in the fog and needed assistance to get safely back to Sunderland.

While escorting the boat back into harbour, the lifeboat crew spotted a red handheld distress flare through the fog a quarter of a mile away.

It turned out to be the initial vessel that the crew had been searching for, which was then towed back to harbour with the lost boat following.

Mr Nicholson said: "This incident highlights the importance of being well prepared to head out to sea.

"The RNLI recommends that all vessels should carry a marine VHF radio, basic navigation equipment, and marine distress flares.

"This will allow the boat owners to navigate safely in poor visibility but also provide accurate position information to RNLI in the event of an emergency."