Wick Coastguard Rescues. 


18th January 1958 - Jean Stephens


As reported in The Coastguard - (Vol 10, No. 2   June 1958  Page 31)

Station Officer Eric Campbell


"Winter's Fiercest Gales and Blizzards - 
Anti-Tank Ditches Hold Up Rescue Work In The North."

Few more difficult tests of physical endurance can be expected at a wreck service than that experienced by the Wick Coastguard staff and L.S.A. (Life Saving Apparatus) Company when the Aberdeen trawler "Jean Stephens" was driven ashore at Sinclair Bay during the fierce gale and blizzard on the night of January 18. Great credit must also be given to the police at Wick and Reiss, some of whose members are always ready to volunteer their services at a shipping casualty, for their invaluable help in this occasion.

Aberdeen Trawler - Jean Stephens "The Coastguard"

(This  picture is reproduced  from The Coastguard magazine - with kind permission.)

Another victim of the winter storms, the Aberdeen trawler "Jean Stephens" ashore and a total wreck at Sinclair Bay.

(Click on picture to enlarge.)

The story begins when Mr. J.A. Addison, District Officer, Wick, and a Coastguardsman started off by car with light rescue equipment shortly before 10 p.m. on the five miles journey to Sinclair Bay. Road conditions were terrible, and it was thought advisable to use four vehicles to transport the main party of Coastguardsmen and the L.S.A.. Company who had turned out 13 strong.

As they made their way along the icy, snow-covered road they could see the red flares being fired from the distressed vessel, which marked her position near the Riess golf links. They got their vehicles to within a quarter-of-a-mile of the wreck, but further progress was halted by two deep snow-filled anti-tank ditches. There was nothing for it but to man-handle the gear over the rough snow-covered hummocks, steep frozen sand slopes, holes and pits, all made treacherous by deep and drifting snow.

they found the "Jean Stephens" rolling heavily in the surf, and the lifeboat attempting to reach her. The rescue apparatus was assembled, but firing of the rocket was delayed while the lifeboat made another attempt. At 11.30p.m. a line was fired across the vessel, but owing to some misunderstanding by the crew the whip was not hauled out. When the tide began to ebb the vessel ceased to roll and although she had a heavy list to port, was in no immediate danger. The gear was laid out for immediate use and the L.S.A. Company stood by in case the wind caused the crew to abandon ship.

By 2.30 a.m. she was high and dry and the Coastguard were able to assist the crew of eleven to leave the ship and help them along the beach from where they were taken to the golf club house and later to the Deep Sea Mission hostel at Wick. The skipper and mate remained on board for another hour. Later the L.S.A. Company returned to Wick leaving their gear in readiness for their return some hours later when it was intended to attempt to refloat the ship.

The lifeboat also returned to port with a man, taken from the British trawler "Strath Dee", who had suffered serve bruises from a line-throwing rocket when attempting to make contact with the "Jean Stephens" before the arrival of the L.S.A. Company. During the whole of these operations the Coastguard and L.S.A. men worked throughout the night without shelter of any kind against the intense cold, gale force winds, and heavy snowfalls. The District Officer and Station Officer L. Torne remained on duty locating as much of the spare gear as was not covered under snowdrifts, intending later to return to Wick for food and a change of clothing.

Later in the morning when it was obvious that weather conditions would prevent any attempt to refloat the ship the District and Station Officers with Coastguard and L.S.A. men returned to recover the gear. Much of it had to be dug out of the snow, but the task of getting everything back into proper order and serviceable condition was carried out without any intervening rest period. But before they could get away, their car was bogged down and a blinding blizzard developed which virtually kept them prisoners in the car until the storm abated at 8.30 a.m. when they were able to walk back to the main road and get a lift back to Wick where they arrived at 10 a.m.

It was also reported in "The Coastguard" on page 34 that a commendation was earned. An exact copy of the report is below.

"Many calls from ships in trouble have been answered but no really spectacular rescues can be reported. One which looked as if it might result in a major services was the Aberdeen trawler "Jean Stephens" which went ashore in Sinclair Bay, about four miles from Wick. It was a bitter night; roads were icebound and frequent squalls of heavy snow had to be contended with.  And to make matters worse the casualty was located on the beach which had to be approached by way of sand dunes in which were the remains of anti-tank ditches - remnants of the last war.  The full story of the casualty appears above so I will not repeat it, but I must state that the Chief Inspector's letter of commendation to the staff and the L.S.A. Company for their arduous work under conditions of extreme hardship was thoroughly well earned."


            Back to Wick Rescue's page


Home Page


Go Back One Screen

Top Of Page

Coastguard Home Page
Sign the Guest Book Click here to E-Mail me

Home Objectives Coastguard Home Bibliography Royal Navy Home Webmaster   What's New Site Map My Thanks
50th Anniversary Memorial of George Robb Disaster.
Then and Now Winners 150th Anniversary Station History
COCK'PATH Cock'path
Then and Now