754/2022 Capsized Vessel


After departure from the westerly runway at Guernsey Airport for a routine and pre-planned training flight, Air Search 1 Tango proceeded to fly three clockwise orbits of the Island and was routing towards the Channel Light Buoy in the English Channel when we were re-tasked to respond to a Mayday call.

Guernsey Coastguard called us at 1155hrs, asking us to accept a tasking from Solent Coastguard. A capsized vessel, orange in colour, 5 metres in length and with no engine had been sighted in position 49 47.00’ N, 003 26.50 W.

Air Search 1 Bravo accepted the tasking and diverted immediately towards the last known position. At 1215hrs we were advised that HMCG Helicopter Rescue 924 had also been tasked. We sighted the capsized vessel at 1219hrs in position 49 47.19’ N, 003 26.06 W and passed this information to Solent Coastguard.

To assist Rescue 924 we dropped an orange smoke at 1223hrs just a few feet away from the target. Rescue 924 arrived on scene a short time later and we orbited the scene at a safe distance. Their winchman was lowered to the vessel at 1242hrs. He reported there were no casualties as far as he could assess.

RNLI ALB Salcombe Lifeboat had also been tasked and was making her best speed towards our position. Rescue 924 was tasked to search an area for a person in the water, and HMCG Helicopter Rescue 925 had also been tasked to join the search. We dropped a second orange smoke at 1308hrs to assist Salcombe Lifeboat with the capsized vessel’s location. Due to the swell, Salcombe Lifeboat reported they were unable to recover the capsized vessel.

At 1310hrs we received new search instructions from Solent Coastguard. We were tasked to search for a Person in the Water (PIW), flying a 16-leg parallel track search pattern, commencing in position 49 48.139’ N, 003 29.940 W, with an initial track of 176, flying 0.25nm track spacings, with track legs of 4.32nm. The search pattern was created on TimeZero and we commenced the search pattern, flying at an altitude of 500ft, at 1317hrs.

At 1323hrs we were advised RNLI ALB Torbay Lifeboat had also been tasked.

At 1352hrs, Air Search 1 Bravo made a possible sighting which caused us to break off the search pattern. We overflew the area several times to satisfy ourselves that this was unrelated surface debris.

At 1420hrs we left the search area to return to Guernsey Airport for refuelling. We confirmed to Solent Coastguard that we would be available for re-tasking and this could be achieved within 20 minutes of being on the ground if required. Solent Coastguard said this was not required at this stage but may wish to re-task us later on.

Tags: Launch reports