The rescue crew (left to right): Trainee observer Lt Dan Cochrane, on exchange from the Royal Australian Navy, pilots Lt Pascal Munster and Lt Cdr Olly Hill, trainee observer Lt Robert Templeton and observer instructor Lt Phil Reid (Picture: Royal Navy).
Navy

Royal Navy aviators break off from training to rescue kayaker from icy Cornish waters

The man had capsized while paddling his kayak off the Lizard Peninsula in Cornwall.

The rescue crew (left to right): Trainee observer Lt Dan Cochrane, on exchange from the Royal Australian Navy, pilots Lt Pascal Munster and Lt Cdr Olly Hill, trainee observer Lt Robert Templeton and observer instructor Lt Phil Reid (Picture: Royal Navy).

Royal Navy aviators have rescued a kayaker from the freezing waters off the Cornish coast.

The man had capsized while paddling off the Lizard Peninsula on Monday afternoon and called mayday on his radio.

A Merlin Mk2 helicopter crew in Falmouth Bay, which was about to start a search and rescue drill with its trainee aircrew, received the SOS call and launched into action.

Pilot Lieutenant Commander Olly Hill and his crew flew towards the search zone, near the cliffs one mile south of Coverack.

Falmouth Coastguard and the Lizard RNLI Lifeboat were also involved in the rescue.

Lieutenant Commander Hill said: "We were literally just about to start the training when we picked up a garbled mayday message.

"We all paused and just listened, and we heard the message again. It was hard to understand but we heard the man say Coverack – we were only five minutes away."

The kayaker was picked up by trainee observer Lieutenant Robert Templeton, the first to spot the man holding on to the side of the capsized kayak, who was lowered down the winch line by his instructor as the helicopter hovered overhead.

The pair were brought back up to the helicopter, where the kayaker was in shock but otherwise appeared unhurt, the Navy said.

The aircrew hand over the rescued kayaker to the ambulance service (Picture: Royal Navy).

Lt Templeton said: "This was actually the first time I've ever done this.

"We didn't really adapt anything, and we carried on just as though it were a training exercise rather than real-life. It was a team effort and we all worked together to make sure it had a successful outcome."

Matt Rogers, Team Leader at the Maritime and Rescue Co-ordination Centre at Falmouth, said: "The Royal Navy helicopter was training nearby in Falmouth Bay when they heard the distress call and made immediate contact to respond.

"Their quick actions meant they located the casualty within minutes of arriving on scene.

"The helicopter transported the casualty to RNAS Culdrose, where naval medics and Coastguard Rescue Teams attended to him.

"It is a great example of how we operate as one big team when it comes to search and rescue – the Navy crew were happy to lend their services, and we were happy to receive them," he added.