ROYAL Navy warships from Portsmouth had to put their training on hold after receiving an emergency call from the coastguard.
Patrol ship HMS Mersey and frigate HMS Westminster were taking on a navigation training exercise in Guernsey and Jersey when they were scrambled to help with a rescue operation.
Jersey coastguards called upon the ships twice during the vessels’ Fleet Navigating Officers Sea assessment.
The first tasking was to identify an object which had been reported by an aeroplane which had just taken off from Jersey airport.
The object was large and orange and believed to be a possible life raft. Both Mersey and Westminster responded at speed to the last known position.
Fortunately it was identified as an orange fishing vessel stopped in the water and both units were stood down.
The second incident was during a pilotage in the vicinity of St Brelade’s Bay. The ships were asked to remain in the mouth of the bay to assist the search for a missing swimmer until the Lifeboat and Coastguard boats arrived.
Navigation officer Lieutenant Greg Padden said: ‘Safety of life at sea is our greatest peacetime responsibility, and when we received notification of potential distress it is amazing to see how quickly HMS Mersey and her crew are able to respond.
‘I take great pride in our ability provide assistance to mariners in distress and it was one of the reasons I joined the navy.’