Royal Navy Ship Rescues Father And Son Off Dorset Coast

The pair were found on a life raft, waving flares about three miles off Portland Bill after their fishing boat capsized.

The Royal Navy’s HMS Westminster has rescued a father and son after their boat capsized off the coast of Dorset.

The Type 23 frigate responded to a Mayday call and found the 40-year-old skipper and his 17-year-old-son on a life raft.

The pair’s fishing vessel – Ocean Echo – sank in Weymouth Bay, about three miles off Portland Bill, as the rescue took place.

Commander Lou Ray, HMS Westminster's Commanding Officer, told Forces News “it was relatively easy" to find the men, despite having no radio communication, as they had let off a flare.

"Although the weather was bad, it was pretty choppy and windy, the visibility was good," said Cdr Ray.

The crew from the Portsmouth-based warship recovered both men and they were medically checked on board.

Cdr Ray added: "They were cold, one of them had a minor head injury but I think most of all, they were just relieved to see us."

The father and son were later transferred to the Weymouth RNLI boat which took them back to land.

HMS Westminster responded to a Mayday call and found the father and son waving flares from a life raft (Picture: MOD).

The rescue took "about an hour" and it's believed Weymouth RNLI is going to attempt to recover the capsized fishing boat.

Cdr Ray said: "Unfortunately, Ocean Echo was quickly lost which shows the speed at which incidents like this can escalate and that the swift actions of HMS Westminster enabled a good outcome for the casualties.

"It’s actually something we end up doing fairly frequently."

"This is exactly the sort of reactive incident that the Royal Navy is able to conduct at short notice," she added.

"My ship’s company and I are always prepared to assist our fellow mariners when in difficulty and wish a speedy recovery to the affected fishermen and their families."

HMS Westminster left Portsmouth on Monday to conduct training and trials after two months of upgrades.

Her key radar systems were updated and will be tested off the south coast for the rest of the week.

A new diesel engine was also fitted.

The frigate has "an exceptionally busy 2021 on operations", says the Royal Navy.

Cover image: (Picture: Coxswain Andy Sargent of Weymouth RNLI).