DEDICATED lifesavers missed their New Year's Eve celebrations after going to the rescue of a drifting ship.

The vessel, an 80m cargo ship, Pilsum, suffered engine difficulties and drifted east of Portland Bill towards St Alban's Head.

Weymouth lifeboat stood by the vessel in darkness, in near gale force winds and rough seas, until a tug, the Kingston, came on scene to tow Pilsum to safety.

Yesterday Storm Dylan brought winds of up to 76mph to parts of the UK.

Coastguards were alerted to the incident in the early evening and Weymouth Lifeboat launched at 6.20pm.

Swanage Lifeboat were alerted to the incident just after 6pm by coastguard and launched the lifeboat at 7.28pm.

A spokesman for Swanage Lifeboat said: “At just after 6pm on New Year’s Eve UK Coastguard paged Swanage Lifeboat’s Operations Manager to inform him of a situation developing south of Lulworth.

“A cargo ship had lost power and was drifting. A tug from Poole Harbour had been tasked to assist along with Weymouth Lifeboat.

“The ship was offshore but was getting ever closer to St Alban's Head.

“The coxswain was informed and proceeded to the lifeboat station to monitor the situation.

“Around an hour later with the tow still not connected and the ship closer to the shore the decision was taken to page the Swanage crew."

A crew had been organised to cover the New Year’s Eve period and after launching, arrived at the scene around 30 minutes later just west of St Alban's Head.

The tug boat struggled to connect the vessel to tow it to safety.

The spokesman added: “The tug’s first attempt to connect a tow had failed and they were getting in position to try again.

“The tug got a line to the ship, but the ship’s crew failed to get the heavy tow line aboard. After about an hour and several more attempts the tug’s towline was finally connected to the ship and they slowly started to head towards Poole Bay."

At around 11pm the tug and tow arrived at the anchorage outside of Poole Harbour and the ship’s anchor dropped. Once UK Coastguard and the other skippers were happy that the ship was secure and not drifting the lifeboat was released to return to Swanage.

The spokesman said: “The lifeboat was back on the slipway at 11:40pm but the crew didn’t quite make it back home for their New Year’s Eve celebrations as the lifeboat had to be washed down, refuelled and restocked ready for the next shout.”

A spokesman for Weymouth Lifeboat asked people enjoying the new year’s festivities to spare a thought for the crew involved in the rescue and wished everyone a happy new year.