Aircraft

RAF's Poseidon helps rescue rowers stranded in the Atlantic Ocean

This was the first time the RAF has dispatched a Poseidon P8 aircraft to be used for UK search and rescue.

Two rowers have been rescued by a merchant vessel and Royal Air Force jet after their boat capsized nearly 800 nautical miles off the British coast.

The pair were eventually saved by the ship, which had been diverted to the origin of a radio distress beacon in the Atlantic Ocean.

A Poseidon P-8 aircraft from RAF Lossiemouth was scrambled to the position and supported efforts by providing an overview of the rescue and a communications link from the scene back to the UK.

It was the first time a Poseidon has been used for search and rescue in the UK.

Teams at the Coastguard's Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre (JRCC) received the signal from the rowers at about 06:10 UKT on Thursday.

The two crew members, from the Faroe Islands, were adrift nearly 800 nautical miles (1,482km) off Land's End, Cornwall, having taken to a life raft after their rowing vessel turned over and sank.

Rescuers contacted merchant vessels in the area to ask for help.

The closest ship was asked to alter course and proceed to the distress position where the alert – known as an EPIRB – had been set off.

An EPIRB (emergency position-indicating radio beacon) is a type of radio transmitter used to send out a distress call.

The rowers were then rescued by the merchant vessel and were reported to be in "good health", the Coastguard said.

Watch: In January, the RAF's submarine hunter fleet was completed with the arrival of ninth P-8A Poseidon.

'World-leading capability of the Poseidon'

JRCC Commander Rob Priestley said: "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, commanding the RAF's 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."