A RESCUE operation was launched after a fire broke out on a ship around five miles off the North-East coast.

The master of the Nor Da Vinci, an 8,700 tonne offshore dive support vessel, made the call for help after a fire broke out in the vicinity of the ship’s engine room.

At the time the ship was about five nautical miles east of the Tyne piers after leaving Blyth harbour.

Tynemouth RNLI’s all weather lifeboat responded to the call at around 1.15pm on Monday.

Arriving at the Nor Da Vinci just eight minutes after launching, the volunteer lifeboat crew made contact with the ship whose crew assured them that they were all safe and no-one was in immediate danger.

After a few minutes it was confirmed that the flames were out, leaving smoke coming from smouldering pipe lagging.

After an hour the ship confirmed that the fire was out but that they were going to anchor and shut all systems down to make a full investigation.

The crew was able to locate the problem at about 4.10pm. Two of the ship’s seven engines were isolated as a result of the fire and it was able to get underway.

The lifeboat was then stood down and returned to station while the ship made further repairs at anchor.

Adrian Don, Tynemouth RNLI spokesman, said: 'Our volunteer crew members responded to the alert as fast as possible, not knowing how bad the situation was.

“This could have been a major incident with the crew of the Nord Da Vinci potentially having to abandon ship but thankfully they brought the fire under control quickly with no harm coming to anyone.

“The lifeboat stood by in case the fire restarted or any of the ship’s crew were injured during the firefighting and investigations of the cause.”