Daring Royal Navy airman lands on tiny survey vessel HMS Magpie in Solent 'rescue mission'

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
SKILLED naval aviators swooped down onto one of the navy’s smallest ships, HMS Magpie, during a daring rescue rehearsal in the Solent.

Observer Lieutenant Commander AJ Pearson, of 824 Naval Air Squadron, was carefully lowered onto the 58ft-long survey boat in an historic first.

Magpie’s quarterdeck is about the same size as the cockpit of a yacht, making it ideal for practising winching a casualty from a confined space.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Although the navy no longer maintains dedicated search and rescue squadrons – a service now provided by regionally the Coastguard in Hill Head – helicopter crews still need to be ready to respond to Mayday alerts from civilian vessels.

Lieutenant Commander AJ Pearson, of 824 Naval Air Squadron, was carefully lowered onto the 58ft-long survey boat in an historic first.Lieutenant Commander AJ Pearson, of 824 Naval Air Squadron, was carefully lowered onto the 58ft-long survey boat in an historic first.
Lieutenant Commander AJ Pearson, of 824 Naval Air Squadron, was carefully lowered onto the 58ft-long survey boat in an historic first. | Other 3rd Party
Read More
Navy called to ‘reinstate’ submarine captain sacked after lockdown party

At the helm of Magpie was her skipper Lieutenant Commander Mark White, who deftly manoeuvred his nimble vessel in the face of a very powerful downblast from the rotors of the 14-tonne helicopter.

‘This was absolutely a Magpie first,’ he said. ‘It definitely gave us a salty wash down but we were able to hold course no problem despite the impressive downwash.’

After an extensive refit earlier this year in Cornwall, Devonport-based Magpie is conducting survey work in home waters.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad
A view from above as a pilot approaches HMS Magpie in the Solent. Photo: Royal NavyA view from above as a pilot approaches HMS Magpie in the Solent. Photo: Royal Navy
A view from above as a pilot approaches HMS Magpie in the Solent. Photo: Royal Navy | Other 3rd Party

Her size and the fact that she’s packed from bow to stern with leading-edge sonar and scanning equipment means she can survey inshore waters larger vessels in the Royal Navy’s hydrographic and survey flotilla cannot – and in unparalleled detail, providing the most accurate mapping of ports, harbours and shipping lanes in home waters.

She is currently operating in the Solent.

A message from the Editor

Thank you for reading this story on portsmouth.co.uk. While I have your attention, I also have an important request to make of you.

The Merlin as it flies above HMS Magpie during the rescue training mission. Photo: Royal NavyThe Merlin as it flies above HMS Magpie during the rescue training mission. Photo: Royal Navy
The Merlin as it flies above HMS Magpie during the rescue training mission. Photo: Royal Navy | JPIMedia Resell

With the coronavirus lockdown having a major impact on many of our advertisers - and consequently the revenue we receive - we are more reliant than ever on you taking out a digital subscription.

Subscribe to portsmouth.co.uk and enjoy unlimited access to local news and information online and on our app. With a digital subscription, you can read more than 5 articles, see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. Visit our Subscription page now to sign up.

Our journalism costs money and we rely on advertising, print and digital revenues to help to support them. By supporting us, we are able to support you in providing trusted, fact-checked content for this website.

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.