A Royal Air Force (RAF)-operated Boeing P-8A Poseidon MRA1 maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) from RAF Lossiemouth in Moray, Scotland, was launched to help rescue two transatlantic rowers on August 18, marking the first time the type has been deployed to support an active search-and-rescue (SAR) operation.
Her Majesty’s (HM) Coastguard established that the two transatlantic rowers from the Faroe Islands had taken to a life raft after their rowing vessel had capsized and sank. After communicating with nearby merchant vessels, a ship – the Nordic Qinngua – proceeded to make its way towards the stricken rowers.
To support these SAR efforts, the RAF dispatched a Poseidon MRA1 to the area from RAF Lossiemouth. According to the air arm, the Poseidon crew from No 201 Squadron ‘Guernsey’s Own’ was resting for a scheduled evening mission when they were called in to respond to the emergency transmission from the life raft and support the rescue operation. The aircraft arrived on scene at 1145hrs (local time) and subsequently established communication with the Nordic Qinngua and made visual contact with the life raft, before relaying the information back to UK mission controllers to help coordinate rescue efforts.
No 201 Squadron’s Flt Lt Daz Williams, the P-8A mission commander, reflected on the successful SAR mission. “We were able to get eyes on with the merchant ship and the lifeboat in good time, which allowed us to relay their positions back to the UK. The conditions made rescue very difficult but thanks to some skilful manoeuvring, the ship managed to bring the life raft alongside and recover the rowers,” he said.
Wg Cdr Adam Smolak, officer commanding No 201 Squadron, concluded: “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.”