MYSTERY surrounds why red flares were set off over the Solent last night – as no emergency incident was found.
Lifeboat crews from across the Portsmouth region were called out to reports of a red flare spotted just off Browndown in Gosport.
Solent Coastguard says it received ‘multiple reports’ – including one from the Type 45 destroyer HMS Duncan – but that there was no trace of an incident.
RNLI Portsmouth, Gosport and Fareham Inshore Rescue Service (GAFIRS) and the Coastguard were called to the incident.
Aaron Gent, one of the RNLI Portsmouth crew members, said: ‘We were out training when we had reports from the Coastguard at about 9pm about a red flare being set off.
‘We covered the area quite intensely but didn’t see anything.
‘The only thing we saw were firework displays – so it could have been anything.
‘We are only send out if there is a plausible sighting, and I would rather be called out and find nothing than stumble across something that wasn’t reported.’
James Baggott, community director of GAFIRS, said: ‘One of the reports came from the navy warship HMS Duncan, and others from experienced mariners, so that’s a good indication of this being a legitimate flare.
‘We searched along from Gilkicker to Lee-on-the-Solent and were confident that we didn’t find anyone in distress or anything that had sunk.
‘These were very credible reports – but a red flare is a 999 call at sea.
‘I would ask anybody who is thinking of setting off a flare during the fireworks season to not do so.’
A spokeswoman from Solent Coastguard said: ‘We received four reports of red flares being set off about two nautical miles south of Browndown.
‘We still don’t know where the red flare came from, but have contacted the police about the incident.’
A spokesman from Hampshire Police has confirmed that the Coastguard dealt with the incident.