Watch: RAF goes to rescue of sailor on stricken yacht in stormy Atlantic seas

Footage shows the moment two Royal Air Force aircraft go to the rescue of a distressed sailor after his yacht lost its mast in stormy seas – 700 nautical miles away from land in the Atlantic Ocean.

RAF crews located the sailor midway between the UK and Greenland as his stricken yacht struggled in six-metre-high waves, before dropping specialist rescue equipment including an inflatable life raft and survival gear, by parachute.

The crews later helped merchant ships locate the yacht and bring the sailor to safety.

Two RAF aircraft took part in the rescue mission including an Atlas A400M transport aircraft from RAF Brize Norton, and a Poseidon P8 submarine hunter aircraft from RAF Lossiemouth which is equipped with surveillance and search and rescue equipment.

The RAF has today released a video of its part in the rescue which took place 700 nautical miles west of Ireland on Saturday, 15 October, and overnight into Sunday morning.

RAF search and rescue mission by a Poseidon P8 on October 15, 2022.
Two RAF aircraft helped in the rescue of the stricken yachtsman (Picture: RAF).

Footage shows how the CXX Squadron Poseidon P-8 Maritime Patrol Aircraft located the stricken yacht as it bobbed around and adrift in the high waves, using the aircraft's advanced surface search capabilities.

The crew then co-ordinated with the Atlas from LXX Squadron, enabling it to visually check the area and locate the yacht before the P-8 then made radio contact with the sailor to confirm that he was uninjured and let him know help was on its way.

The Atlas dropped its Air Sea Rescue Apparatus (ASRA), which comes equipped with inflatable life rafts and survival equipment, near the yacht through a rear ramp drop, where it landed in the sea via parachute.

This was the first mission where the A400 employed the ASRA equipment in action.

The rescue pack was retrieved by the yachtsman who remained under the watchful eye of the Poseidon aircraft while the Atlas returned to RAF Brize Norton.

Merchant ships sailed 120 miles off their planned route to recover the sailor, who had to remain with his stricken yacht overnight until the ships could reach him, with the Poseidon assisting the ship's crews to locate him.

The Atlas dropped its Air Sea Rescue Apparatus (ASRA), which comes equipped with inflatable life rafts and survival equipment.
The Atlas dropped its Air Sea Rescue Apparatus (ASRA), made up of inflatable life rafts and survival equipment (Picture: RAF).

The sailor was eventually brought to safety when the ships arrived alongside on Sunday morning before he was treated for minor injuries.

Flight Lieutenant Mainwaring, captain of the Atlas, described his enormous sense of relief at a successful rescue, adding: "The team at RAF Brize Norton was simply superb today, it really felt like they were propelling us into the air with a shared sense of purpose and mission.

"Similarly, knowing the Poseidon was on station provided not only a huge amount of additional capability but also reinforced that the RAF team was collectively working to rescue this stranded individual."

Flt Lt Mainwaring went on: "There was huge relief when we confirmed the location of the yacht. There was a sense of purpose as we prepared to release the rescue equipment because you only get one chance to get it right. Seeing the yachtsman recover the equipment we dropped was a huge relief.

"I am incredibly proud of Team Atlas today, with the whole force helping to deliver emergency equipment at very short notice and under challenging conditions. It is a timely reminder of why we hold constant readiness and of the tremendous reach and capabilities of the Atlas aircraft."

Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston, Chief of the Air Staff, congratulated the RAF teams and offered his thanks to everyone involved in the rescue, saying they displayed outstanding teamwork and saved the yachtsman's life.

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