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Published: 08 Nov 2016

MAYDAY call heard by Royal Navy Wildcat helicopter flight crew meant they were first to locate two people and their dog in the water off the Dorset coast in assistance to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.


A Wildcat helicopter from 825 Naval Air Squadron (NAS) was on a routine training sortie launched from Royal Naval Air Station (RNAS) Yeovilton last Friday to the South Coast to conduct continuation training.


On launch the aircrew on board the Wildcat detected a maritime Ch 16 discussion between Solent Coastguard and Rescue 106 (Portland Coastguard Helicopter) regarding a Mayday call.  Taking down the details of the point of reference they identified that it was in their operating area and contacted Solent Coastguard to offer their assistance. 


Once in the area the aircraft stood off to the West as there was a Coastguard Helicopter, two or three lifeboats and two fishing boats in the area conducting a search for a fishing vessel in poor weather conditions with low cloud base and reduced visibility. Using all sensors the Wildcat aircrew assisted with the search, especially once Rescue 106 located a small oil slick and closed the point of reference. 


During this time the Wildcat crew visually spotted two blue fishing crates in the water and whilst manoeuvring to on top them to obtain an accurate position the Pilot of the Wildcat, Lieutenant Andrew Latchem Royal Navy spotted two personnel in the water; a call was made to notify Solent Coastguard and all other assets in the area to the location of the survivors. The Aircraft Commander, Commander Simon Collins who was in the back of the helicopter opened the cabin door to signal to the survivors that they had been spotted. 


Rescue 106 then closed the position and was guided in to the survivors by the Observer Lieutenant Commander Alex Sims, the survivors were recovered by the Lifeboat and then Rescue 106 winched the most severe casualty with hypothermia and cramping and took them to Dorchester Hospital.  The remaining survivor stayed with the lifeboat and once the situation had been recovered the Royal Navy Wildcat returned to RNAS Yeovilton.


The Captain of Rescue 106 , Mike Paulet himself an Ex Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm Pilot later called Cdr Collins to thank the Royal Navy aircrew for their help; Cdr Collins said:


The survivors had been in the water for about an hour so they were extremely lucky to have been located when they were; we on 825 Naval Air Squadron are delighted to have been of assistance with such a capable aircraft at our disposal. We are delighted that all ended well.”


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