Dramatic rescue sees ferry officer dive into freezing harbour to save drowning man

A Wightlink member of staff dived into the freezing water of Portsmouth Harbour to rescue a man that was drowning, the ferry company has confirmed.

The crew of the St Clare ferry spotted a man in the water close to their vessel, berthed near the Gunwharf car ferry terminal, at around 11pm on Saturday.

Springing into action, the crew on the car deck tossed a life ring towards the man - who struggled to reach the floatation device - prompting deck officer Steve Chamberlain to jump in.

With 20 years service with Wightlink and five years in the Royal Navy, Mr Chamberlain said: "I just acted instinctively when we saw the man wasn't able to get into the life ring.

"We carry out emergency drills all the time, but it's different when it's happening for real. Getting the man to safety was teamwork and I'm grateful to my fellow crew members for their support."

Fellow crew members Paul Cooke, Robbie Mihell and Chris Fremantle were onboard the staff launch with its coxswain Peter Simmonds, who also assisted in the rescue.

Conscious, but suffering from the effects of hypothermia, Wightlink said the man was taken to the pontoon in Broad Street, Old Portsmouth where paramedics were waiting to take him to hospital.

Mr Chamberlain was also taken to hospital for a check up, but was later released.

Wightlink operations director Daryl Palmer said he and the company are proud of Mr Chamberlain and his colleagues for "acting so promptly".

"It was a cold winter's night and I'm sure the man would have died from hypothermia if he had not been spotted by the crew and rescued by Steve," he added.

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