The crew of a Royal Navy vessel have rushed to the aid of an injured French fisherman trapped by bad weather on the Irish Sea.
Royal Navy Hydrographic survey vessel, HMS Echo, was carrying out maritime security operations when she received a request for assistance from Milford Haven Coastguard. The coastguard had already scrambled both an RAF search and rescue helicopter and an RNLI lifeboat to rescue the fisherman, but weather conditions were deteriorating fast. The 5 metre high swell meant it was not possible to lower a winchman safely onto the vessel’s deck and assist the fisherman who was showing signs of hypothermia.
Once Echo was called in, the 3,500 tonne ship attempted to provide some shelter for the RNLI lifeboat to get alongside the French fishing vessel, Alf, but once again the weather prevented a rescue. This left them with no choice but to escort the fishing vessel closer inland before the helicopter was able to winch the injured fisherman to safety.
With 59 crew members on board, HMS Echo was fortunate to have Gunnery Officer, Lieutenant Adam Butler, amongst the Ship’s Company. Lt Butler studied French at University College London before joining the Royal Navy and was able to translate what the French crew were saying.
Lt Butler said: “It’s not often that I get to use my language skills in my current job, but this was a refreshing change. I’m just pleased we were able to assist another mariner in his time of need.”
Lt Cdr Karen Fyfe, HMS Echo’s Executive Officer, added: “The safety of life at sea remains the responsibility of every mariner – HMS Echo was the right ship, in the right place, at the right time. We have the expertise onboard to enable the ship’s company to make an immediate impact on the lives of those unfortunate enough to have been caught up in the incident on the fishing vessel. I am pleased that we were able to provide valuable and timely support to fellow mariners. This is what our people in the Royal Navy are trained to do, and do well.”