A WOMAN was released from hospital today only hours after being plucked from the North Sea having fallen overboard from a ferry.

The Humber Coastguard was alerted after the passenger, from Hertfordshire, was reported to have fallen from a DFDS ferry last night.

It was a short time into the Princess Seaway’s regular crossing from North Shields, on the River Tyne, to Ijmuiden, in the Netherlands.

The ferry was around 20 miles east of Scarborough when the incident took place at 8.35pm.

It was put in reverse mode to retrace its course to try to rescue the woman as darkness had already set in.

Although an RAF Sea King rescue helicopter from Leconfield base was scrambled and the Scarborough and Filey lifeboat crews were put on stand-by, it was the ferry’s own rescue craft which helped to bring the woman from the water.

The 21-year-old passenger, from Welwyn Garden City, was in the water for around half-an-hour.

Having been taken back to the ferry she was winched onto the rescue helicopter and flown to Scarborough Hospital, where she was checked for hypothermia and ingesting sea water.

Coastguard watch manager Mike Green said it was not known how she fell from the ferry.

He said the water temperature is believed to have been around 14C at the time.

"We received a call about 8.45 last night from the Princess Seaways ferry.

"They said they’d had a person overboard and were reversing course.

"We alerted the RAF Sea King helicopter and put the Scarborough and Filey lifeboats on stand-by in case we had an extended search."

But Mr Green said the ferry crew was "very efficient" with its man-overboard procedures, and was quickly able to make visual contact with the stricken passenger, despite the darkness He said the woman was reported to have been released from the hospital at 4am today.

"She was extremely lucky indeed given the sea was quite rough and it was after darkness had fallen.

"Hypothermia quickly sets in so it was fortunate she was spotted so quickly.

"It could easily have been a very different outcome."

The ferry is understood to have continued its voyage to Ijmuiden where it was scheduled to have berthed this morning.

Are you the woman who was rescued or do you know her? Contact newsdesk@nne.co.uk or call 01325-505065