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North Sea Pilot Paul Dunn saved by his SeaSafe Coat

Mon, 02 June 2008

Paul Dunn was saved twice after falling into the North Sea, the first time 2 weeks into the start of his career as a river pilot but the second time was incredible.

Rescued a second time from the freezing cold waters of the North Sea, river pilot Paul Dunn is extremely lucky to be alive; thanks in part to his SeaSafe coat manufactured by Cowes based SeaSafe Systems.

Two weeks before his retirement, river pilot Paul Dunn, 60, plunged from the side of a cargo ship into the freezing cold waters of the North Sea, in the pitch black at 0145 on 17 April 2008. Paul had been transferring from pilot cutter Greatham to cargo ship Karina G bound for Tees Dock.

As Paul climbed the ladder up the side of Karina G he lost his grip at deck height. Paul was in the water for 20 minutes before being winched to the safety of the pilot cutter and despite hyperthermia setting in he has since made a full recovery.

What makes this story all the more poignant is that Paul had just got his river pilot’s licence and was only two weeks into the job in 1979 when, as a crew member aboard the cutter White Force, he fell into the sea off the Tees estuary. On both occasions Paul was wearing a SeaSafe coat with integrated lifejacket, and both times the coat inflated perfectly, almost certainly saving Paul’s life.

 Paul Dunn commented: "I must be the only river or harbour pilot that has started and ended their careers by falling off the side of a ship. When I fell in that April night it is the first time anybody in the Tees pilot authority has been in the water since 1979, and that was me.

 "I believe I am the only person to fall into the North Sea twice and survive, normally when someone goes in, the task is the recovery of a body."

 Recalling the moment off Tees Bay when he lost his grip on the handrail on the cargo ship Karina G, spun round and plunged into the choppy, numbingly cold water with a metre high swell, he said: "My first thought was - oh no, not again."

 "Then I hit the water. Usually the first effect of that at these temperatures is thermal shock and your heart can stop.

 "Even though my training automatically kicked in, my body was shutting down but thanks to the skills and quick-thinking of my colleagues on board Greatham, they got me back on board.

 "On each of these life threatening incidents I was wearing my SeaSafe coat and both times it worked brilliantly, inflating instantly, giving vital buoyancy and aiding recovery."

Seasafe Systems in Cowes, Isle of Wight, is a specialist manufacturer of marine safety clothing and leading supplier of marine safety products. They pioneered the development of the all-in-one foul weather coat with integrated lifejacket, the coat that becomes a lifejacket in less than five seconds.

For further information on SeaSafe, visit

Notes to Editors

SeaSafe Systems, established in 1966, is based in Cowes on the Isle of Wight. With over 40 years of experience in the marine sector, SeaSafe Systems specializes in marine safety clothing and safety equipment. SeaSafe Systems maintains a very extensive range of products, with all design and manufacturing taking place in the UK. Highly knowledgeable in the marine clothing market, SeaSafe products are designed for the commercial and leisure markets of the marine safety industry in the UK and worldwide. 

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