It may not be a pea green boat, but this owl went to sea in a steely grey warship.
Portsmouth-based HMS Illustrious was in the middle of a busy operations programme when eagle-eyed sailors spotted this tiny owl cowering under the ship’s crane on the flight deck.
The Eurasian Scops owl ended up in the care of Lieutenant Chris Patrick, the ship’s meteorology forecaster, who knew the bird stood no chance of survival if left on the deck.
Temperatures were high and the wind was due to increase and change direction away from land, preventing the small owl getting back to safety.
So Lt Patrick took the creature to his cabin, where he made a comfortable cage, gave it water, and fed it small pieces of meat to build up its strength.
He said: ‘It was clear the poor little thing had literally run out of steam.
‘It must have seen the ship and took refuge.
‘It looked as though it was simply waiting to die.’
After two days the bird was trying to fly around the sailor’s cabin.
So when the ship neared the Omani coastline, the bird was set free.
Lt Patrick added: ‘The bird looked in good condition when it left and it was heading to shore with the prevailing winds.
‘We all hope it made the journey safely.’
HMS Illustrious is in the Gulf taking part in a series of exercises called Cougar 13.