HMS Duncan Saves Yacht Drifting in Stormy Channel

Sailors from HMS Duncan battled rough conditions to save a yacht drifting out of control into the middle of the English Channel.
The Portsmouth-based destroyer responded to a plea for help from the Coastguard after the yacht, with one person aboard, was reported heading out to off Weymouth with no working engine, power or communications – and in worsening seas.

The Type 45 was anchored in Weymouth Bay around 5.30pm on Saturday amid trials and training following an extensive maintenance period.

Despite sustained wind speeds of 30-35 knots, worsening sea conditions and reducing visibility, the ship launched one of her Pacific 24 sea boats with a crew of seaman specialists, an engineer and a medic aboard.

The motor yacht in distress was drifting rapidly offshore in the wind and tide around Portland Bill and had no flares or working radio equipment onboard.

The sea boat crew were about to abandon the search as conditions grew worse, until Leading Engineering Technician Jack Davies spotted the yacht’s mast in the worsening gloom.

He boarded the vessel, reassured and supported the sole sailor aboard and repaired the engine in difficult conditions.

“The conditions were challenging but the team and I had the right kit, in the right place at the right time to answer the call from the Coastguard,” said seaman specialist Petty Officer Adam Drozdowski, the sea boat’s coxswain.

Medical assistant Petty Officer Tom Austin added: “It took real skill to put us alongside in the heavy sea without hitting the other vessel, with waves crashing over the front of the boat.

“The individual onboard was in the later stages of shock and clearly in a dire condition. I’m glad that we were able to make a difference.”

After restoring power to the vessel, the team handed the situation over to the RNLI Weymouth lifeboat team, before returning safely back to HMS Duncan.

“It was really good to put everything I’ve learned into practice under some really testing conditions,” said Jack.

HMS Duncan has now resumed her trials.

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