HM Coastguard and RAF work together to rescue rowers

HM Coastguard has been working with the RAF and a merchant vessel to rescue two rowers nearly 800 nautical miles off Lands End, Cornwall.

The rescue effort began just after 6.10am (UK time) today when a distress alert was received by HM Coastguard’s Joint Rescue Coordination Centre (JRCC) from a transatlantic rowing vessel.

The JRCC soon established that the two crew members from the Faroe Islands had taken to a liferaft after their rowing vessel had capsized and subsequently sunk.

Merchant vessels in the area were contacted and asked to help. The closest merchant vessel was asked to alter course and proceed to the distress position where the alert – known as an EPIRB – had been set off.

A RAF Poseidon P8 aircraft from RAF Lossiemouth departed for the distress position at about 1130. It’s the first time that one of these aircraft has been used for search and rescue in the UK. The aircraft supported the rescue efforts by providing an overview of the rescue and critical communications link from the scene back to the UK.

Stock image of a Poseidon P8                                                             Credit: RAF

The merchant vessel rescued both crew members who were reported to be in good health.

Rob Priestley for HM Coastguard said: “EPIRBs can really make the difference between being saved and being lost. This alert allowed us to quickly pinpoint where the crew was and to quickly coordinate the help they needed.

“We are very grateful to the merchant vessel that stopped its busy schedule to rescue these survivors in very challenging weather conditions, and thankful to our friends at the RAF who provided such good support for this incident.”

Wing Commander Adam Smolak, Officer Commanding 201 Squadron said: “We were delighted to support the coastguard in this search and rescue operation. This operation showcases the world-leading capability of the Poseidon aircraft and coupled with the highly skilled crews, we were able to bring to bear the capability at short notice and help rescue the rowers”


Notes to editors

·         EPIRB stands for Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon.

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