Fishermen speak of their Royal Navy rescue after their boat capsized off Portland

Two fishermen from Weymouth have told ITV News Meridian they are "grateful to everyone involved" after they had to be rescued from their capsized boat.

David Miller and Jordan Coulter were found huddling in a life raft by the crew of HMS Westminster, floating next to the upturned 'Ocean Echo' about 3 miles off Portland.

Jordan has thanked David, who is his godfather, for saving his life. David activated the inflatable lifeboat and sent up a flare.

The Weymouth lifeboat crew has also praised the fisherman for "doing a great job" and following safety procedures correctly.

The Royal Navy frigate was only five miles away when it picked up the distress call - and a joint operation with HM Coastguard and the Weymouth RNLI saw David and Jordan returned to shore to be checked over by paramedics.

David (C) and Jordan (R) had sailed from Weymouth on Tuesday (20 Oct)

The pair had been out on a routine fishing trip when swell picked up and they were hit by a large wave.

Jordan explained how he'd been changing into oilskins when the boat went over, so he wasn't wearing his lifejacket when he was thrown into the water.

"I had to find my way from under the boat and find where I was," he said.

"I held onto the back of the prop which spins round and then held on and for a minute straight I didn't see the skipper come up.

"I don't know what was going through my head, I was really scared at that point." 

Skipper David eventually managed to activate the inflatable lifeboat, and then sent up a flare which alerted the coastguard, who put a mayday call.

Credit: Crown Copyright

The first to respond was HMS Westminster, which was only 5 miles away having left Portsmouth the day before on engine trials.

Travelling at full speed, the warship was able to launch its sea boat just fifteen minutes later.  

HMS Westminster's captain, Commander Louise Ray, explained that David's quick thinking to fire off a flare meant the ship's company spotted them "almost instantly."

"They managed to look after themselves for long enough until we got there.

"Because we train and operate around the UK, quite often we are in a position and we have the equipment and capability to go in and assist in these instances.

"We are used to as part of our operations, operating out of sea boats in quite heavy seas, heavier than you may expect civilian organisations to do."

Jordan said it felt as though "the land was just getting further and further away. 

"It was terrible, once I saw that boat coming I felt really relieved."  

When the boat capsized, David was trapped upside down in the wheel house because his lifejack had inflated - so he had to cut it off to get free. 

David picked up a concussion, but he said the pair were otherwise "just cold, wet and scared."

"The next thing I know I'm being looked at by the winch man of the coastguard helicopter and the next minute I'm in an ambulance on the way to Dorchester hospital."

David says he's "sore" and "bruised" but "grateful to everyone involved," - and the pair want to get back out to sea as soon as possible.

Andy Sargent, Coxswain of the Weymouth Lifeboat, said they pair did "a great job".

"Once the life raft popped up, they launched it and boarded it and let a flare off which was seen from the shore where the first informant raised the alarm and saw the boat capsized so they did a great job looking after themselves after the incident."

Their rescue was proof that "the system works," he added.

Cdr Ray said she was "immensely proud" of how HMS Westminster's company responded to the mayday call.

"Everyone's training really kicked in," she said.

"In particular the guys that went out in the seaboats...they got on the boats with no thoughts for their own safety.

"They just got in the boats, went out there...and did the job well."