VOLUNTEER lifeboat crews were called to the aid of a 42ft barge which suffered steering failure off Clacton.

Clacton RNLI launched its Atlantic 85 lifeboat in foggy but clam conditions to assist the former Dutch barge, which was in the Whitaker Channel, at about 6.50am on Friday.

The UK Coastguard reported the vessel was seven miles south west of Clacton Pier, was drifting at five knots and was unable to steer.

Walton and Frinton RNLI were also requested to launch as a precaution due to the barge’s size.

On arrival alongside the casualty vessel it was discovered that the barge was the Musia, heading for Harwich from Burnham with one person aboard, who had managed to drop anchor and stop the barge from drifting any further.

Two crew members were placed aboard the vessel to help prepare it to be towed to Brightlingsea for repairs and weigh anchor.

Senior helmsman Tim Dye said: “The early morning fog made this service a little more interesting due to the poor visibility, but the extensive training and local knowledge of my crew proved excellent, resulting in a good outcome.”

Once the Musia was safely at Brightlingsea to await repair, the volunteer crew were released to return to station, where the lifeboat was cleaned and prepared for its next launch by 10am.

A crew spokesman added: “In order to safely undertake services such as this, the volunteer crew at Clacton RNLI train twice a week in all weathers, preparing for as many feasible scenarios as possible.”