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Merlin from 829 NAS landing on HMS Somerset
Merlin Mk2
HMS Somerset
HMS Somerset


Published: 28 Sep 2016

A Merlin helicopter from 829 Naval Air Squadron has played a major role in the dynamic rescue of the crew of a fishing boat in the Irish Sea.

02 Flight were embarked onboard HMS Somerset when they were scrambled after a ‘Mayday’ call was picked up by the Royal Navy Ships. Along with HMS Severn they rushed to the scene where the small boat was reported to be sinking within sight of land in the Northern Irish Sea.

The Spinaway Isla, with three adults and one child aboard had flashed an SOS in the small hours when she lost power and began to take on water about a dozen miles west of the Isle of Man.

Coordinated by Belfast coastguard, the Merlin helicopter was the first aircraft on scene to assist in the rescue effort, with HMS Severn less than 20 Miles away. As Royal Navy aircrews are trained and ready to assist in any Search and Rescue effort around the UK, HMS Somerset’s Merlin was requested to hold its position over the stricken vessel until further assistance arrived from the Peel Lifeboat Station.

A fishing boat and a Coastguard helicopter were also dispatched to the scene in the Coastguard coordinated rescue effort. The lifeboat was the first vessel to reach the Spinaway Isla, and put some of its crewmen across with a pump to help stabilise the stricken vessel.

The Royal Navy remained on-scene until the RNLI crew were satisfied the boat was safe, and eventually escorted it into Peel harbour.

I was very impressed by my ship’s company’s ability to take the initiative at any time, day our night, and be ready to provide assistance in short order,” said Lt Cdr James Reynolds, HMS Severn’s Commanding Officer.

What is equally impressive and heartening is the number of fellow mariners who attended the scene to help. I’m pleased no one was seriously injured and Severn is now back on patrol in UK waters.”


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