HMS St Albans in dramatic monsoon rescue

A helicopter winchman from HMS St Albans lifts on one of the crewmen to safety from the stricken ship. Picture: LA(Phot) Simmo Simpson

A helicopter winchman from HMS St Albans lifts on one of the crewmen to safety from the stricken ship. Picture: LA(Phot) Simmo Simpson

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THE crew of a Portsmouth warship have saved the lives of 13 men in a daring high seas rescue.

HMS St Albans raced to help the group who were trapped on a stricken tanker, MV Pavitt, off the coast of Oman in the Arabian sea yesterday.

The Type 23 frigate’s aircrew flew onto the vessel several times despite a monsoon storm crashing around them, plucking the men to safety.

The tanker was sinking in the storm and the crew had been adrift for several days. Three of the men were seriously ill, the navy said.

A distress call sent out from the tanker yesterday reached Falmouth Coastguard, who put out a call for help to all merchant vessels in the area. However, the storm was so bad that no merchant vessel could offer assistance.

It was then decided to send in the Royal Navy and St Albans raced to the scene.

At 9.14am, the warship’s Merlin helicopter was launched with the Medical Officer embarked to provide medical assistance onboard the stricken vessel before all the mariners were winched to safety.

The rescued men were then flown to the tanker’s sister ship, the MV Jag Pushpa, for more treatment.

Commander Tom Sharpe, Commanding Officer of HMS St Albans said: ‘Safety of life at sea is second nature to all mariners. On this occasion we were very pleased to have been able to help using all the assets available to us. We wish the mariners from MV Pavitt a speedy and successful recovery.’

Ian Guy, Watch Manager at Falmouth Coastguard said: ‘This was a desperate situation for the crewmen on board, who had been without engines for three days in severe weather conditions, and reported that several crew members had fallen seriously ill.

‘Falmouth Coastguard has spent two days working with the Middle Eastern authorities to try and send aid to the stranded vessel, and are pleased that working with the Royal Navy, this has been achieved.’

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