A father and son were saved this morning by HMS Westminster just seconds before their fishing boat sank in Weymouth Bay.
The frigate raced through the bay at top speed after receiving a mayday from the crew of the Ocean Echo which capsized in heavy seas about three miles off Portland Bill.
As she arrived at the scene 15 minutes later after a five-mile dash, Westminster’s bridge team quickly spotted flares waved by the 40-year-old skipper and his 17-year-old son.
The Portsmouth-based warship put one of her boats in the water to rescue them.
The crew of the boat – Leading Seaman Cameron Evans and Able Seamen Leah Mears and Kai Turner – found the Ocean Echo’s two sailors had taken to a life raft.
The pair received a quick medical survey by the Westminster sailors, who decided their injuries meant they could be handed over to Weymouth RNLI lifeboat which arrived on the scene shortly after the warship.
One of the fishermen was subsequently transferred to hospital in Dorchester by the Coastguard helicopter and the second was landed by lifeboat, while the fishing vessel sank as the rescue was taking place.
“Unfortunately Ocean Echo was quickly lost which shows the speed at which incidents like this can escalate and that the swift actions of HMS Westminster enabled a good outcome for the casualties,” said Commander Lou Ray, the frigate’s Commanding Officer.
“This is exactly the sort of reactive incident that the Royal Navy is able to conduct at short notice.
“My ship’s company and I are always prepared to assist our fellow mariners when in difficulty and wish a speedy recovery to the affected fishermen and their families.”
Her ship only sailed from Portsmouth yesterday evening following an extensive two-month package of work, including fitting a new diesel engine and an upgrade to some of her key radar systems.
The new engine immediately proved its worth, while the improved radar will be tested off the south coast for the rest of the week as the frigate gears up for an exceptionally busy 2021 on operations.
Photographs by Andy Sargent/RNLI Weymouth