RAF jet helps rescue two people 900 miles off Cornwall coast after rowing boat sinks

It's the first time an RAF Poseidon P8 aircraft has been used for a search and rescue operation in the UK
It's the first time an RAF Poseidon P8 aircraft has been used for a search and rescue operation in the UK Credit: MI News/NurPhoto/PA Images

Two people had to be rescued hundreds of miles off the Cornish coast after their rowing boat capsized and sank.

The pair of rowers were found on a life raft 800 nautical miles off Land’s End in Cornwall.

The rescue effort began just after 6.10am on Thursday 18 August when a distress alert was received by HM Coastguard’s Joint Rescue Coordination Centre (JRCC).

Nearby merchant vessels were asked to alter their course thanks to an alert known as an EPIRB – Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon – was set off.

Rob Priestley, JRCC commander for HM Coastguard, said: "EPIRBs can really make the difference between being saved and being lost.

"This alert allowed us to quickly pinpoint where the crew was and to quickly coordinate the help they needed.

"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."

A RAF Poseidon P8 aircraft from RAF Lossiemouth departed for the distress position at around 11.30am.

It is the first time that one of these aircraft has been used for search and rescue in the UK.

The aircraft supported the rescue efforts by providing an overview of the rescue and critical communications link from the scene back to the UK.

The merchant vessel rescued both crew members who were reported to be in good health.

Wing Commander Adam Smolak, Officer Commanding 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."