A search was due to resume this morning (Thursday 24 October) for a man seen in the sea in Brighton.
A member of the public called 999 after the man was heard shouting for help. He is believed to have drowned in the rough sea near the western arm of Brighton Marina.
The volunteer crew of the RNLI Brighton lifeboat launched just before 3pm yesterday (Wednesday 23 October) but was unable to reach the man.
It stood down more than three hours after trying to find and rescue the man hampered by the rough conditions and force 6 to 7 south westerly winds.
The Solent Coastguard helicopter arrived on the scene within minutes of the lifeboat crew reaching the area.
The RNLI said: “A sighting was made of a person face down in the water and an attempt was made to recover the casualty.
“Unfortunately, upon approach and with crew in preparation to recover, the casualty sank down under the waves and out of sight.
“The lifeboat crew began an immediate search of the vicinity, accompanied by the coastguard rescue helicopter that arrived on scene within minutes of the last sighting.”
They were supported by shore-based coastguard and police officers in the Black Rock area.
The RNLI said: “With the very rough conditions the lifeboat was only able to get within 50 metres of the shoreline.
“But with the assistance of the coastguard helicopter and the land-based team on the shores and marina wall, a thorough search was conducted by all units.
“The strong wind was pushing the large amount of debris in the sea eastwards and it was thought that the casualty would be pushed into the area close to the marina wall about 10 metres from shore.”
Brighton lifeboat senior helmsman Dave Lowe said: “This is one of the worst places to get caught in the area in these rough conditions as it just becomes like a washing machine with incoming waves bouncing off the marina wall.”
During the search a pile of clothes were found on the shore by Sussex Police and were thought to be those of the casualty.
After 90 minutes the rescue helicopter had to return to base to refuel.
The lifeboat was put on standby with the search continued by the shore-based coastguard team.
After a crew change the lifeboat made a final sweep at dusk of the marina wall and inside the marina entrance without success.