The Wreck of the Adelfotis II
Captain Nicholas Leondaras together with 22 members of his crew, and mascot puppy Manuella were rescued by Breeches Buoy.
The morning of Sunday 20th. of January 1963 was cold with an easterly gale blowing.
The Adelfotis II was having steering trouble when the master decided to seek refuge in the River Tyne. The first warning came at 04 05 am when a coast watcher telephoned the Hon Secretary who immediately called the Brigade. The maroons where fired at 04.14 am. The Brigade fired a rocket to the Aldelfotis II but the line was fouled on board ship. After dawn Sunderland Brigade fired a rocket and secured a line on board. The crew did not leave the ship immediately and offered no contact by radio.
The Adelfotis II was being pounded by heavy seas and was moving towards the Groyne all the time. After some time it was noticed that the ship was blowing off steam, then at 8 - 45 am the first man was brought ashore very exhausted. As each man was brought ashore he was taken by ambulance to the Ingham Infirmary. After the ship was abandoned at 11.20 am, she was lying with a list to starboard her bows up against the rocks of the Groyne still with wind blowing very forcefully.
Source: S.S.V.L.B. Minute Book
From Standby to Action
After many years of standing by and emergency alerts, without any vital call being made on their services wherein they could use their life saving skill, the Brigade were called out in the early hours of 20th January, 1963.
The Lebanese vessel "Adelfotis II" had sought shelter in the Tyne after being disabled, but the storms were such that she was driven aground near the south_ shore with waves pounding over her decks. The Brigade Secretary received a call at 04.05 hours and at 04.30 hours a team had assembled and the trailer was on the move. Shortly afterwards the Brigade was joined by Sunder-land Volunteer Life Brigade and lines were thrown from each Brigade, one across the bow and the other across the stern.
At approximately 08.45 hours the Captain decided to abandon ship and the two Brigades under the directions of Commander C. A. de W. Kitcat, Inspector of North East Division H.M. Coastguards, and Mr. P. Thomas M.B.E., District Officer of Tynemouth,rescued 23 seamen and a dog by breeches buoy. The rescued personnel and their shipowners have recorded their grateful thanks, and the Brigade, on their part, would like to record its thanks to the many voluntary societies and passers-by who assisted in every way possible, and whilst it would be invidious to single out individuals or Services, we feel that a special tribute should be paid to the South Shields Police who did so much to assist us in the call out and during the operation. The Town's Motto "Always Ready" was well and truly justified.
(Photo courtesy of Mr Hilton Davis)
It is to everybody's satisfaction to be able to record that no lives were lost and this feeling perhaps rests more particularly with those members of the Brigade whose faith has spurred them in continuous training to maintain the Brigade as an operational unit ever many years of inactivity.
We are happy to report that such was the publicity given to us on this occasion, backed by His Worship the Mayor,that twelve new members enrolled during the following weeks.
The 4th So.Shields Senior Scout Troop who were voluntarily associated with the Brigade, have now been elected full members and have also been admitted as members of the Coast Life Saving Corps. We offer them our congratulations and welcome them to our cause.
The publicity which the rescue was given on television, on the radio, and in the Press, was followed by a visit from the team of the radio programme "Down Your Way" when Captain D. Tinning, together with the Honorary Secretary and members of the Brigade, took part in the programme.
Training throughout the year has, of course, continued as usual and in recording that the Brigade was placed fourth in the "Chronicle Cup" and third in the "Wearside Shield Competition", we congratulate those who were placed before us and assure them that the challenge will continue in the coming year, which we feel sure acts as a spur to greater practical efficiency in the life saving service.
The highlight of the training was a demonstration given in conjunction with Sunderland Volunteer Life Brigade, when the rescue of 20th January was re-enacted, and permission was obtained to use the "Adelfotis II" for the exercise, which was televised. The occasion attracted many hundreds of spectators, the very large majority of whom, no doubt, had never seen the Brigade in action. We are indebted to St. John's Presbyterian Church, who kindly loaned the Brigade crockery etc. to assist with refreshments on this occasion, and also on that of the Wear-side Shield Competition.
Source: S.S.V.L.B. Annual Report 30 June 1963