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Naval Rescue in the South Atlantic

The Portsmouth-based destroyer HMS York and the fleet tanker RFA Wave Ruler enabled an RAF rescue helicopter to conduct a long-range operation to lift a seriously ill sailor from a fishing vessel in the South Atlantic.
The Portsmouth-based destroyer HMS York and the fleet tanker RFA Wave Ruler enabled an RAF rescue helicopter to conduct a long-range operation to lift a seriously ill sailor from a fishing vessel in the South Atlantic.

Battling high seas and headwinds gusting to over 40 mph, the Portsmouth-based destroyer HMS York and the fleet tanker RFA Wave Ruler enabled an RAF rescue helicopter to conduct a long-range operation to lift a seriously ill sailor from a fishing vessel in the South Atlantic.

On receipt of a mayday call from the Kiribatian* trawler, 300 miles south-east of the Falkland Islands, HMS York and Royal Fleet Auxiliary Wave Ruler were deployed from the islands’ East Cove military port at 8.00 am local time on Monday (March 15).

In a Joint Service operation, Wave Ruler acted as a floating service station for an RAF Sea King helicopter from 1564 Search and Rescue Flight, launched from the Falklands to airlift the trawler man suffering from a suspected ruptured appendix.

Operating in the strong southerly head-winds on the way out, Wave Ruler refuelled the Sea King in flight, using a tried and tested method (Helicopter In-Flight Refuelling, or HIFR), despite the heavy seas. With the Sea King refuelled, both ships and the helicopter continued to head south until the aircraft reached with the trawler to winch off the sick crew member. Aided by the strong tail winds, it was not long before the trawler man was being treated in Port Stanley hospital

*The Republic of Kiribati is in the Gilbert Islands (South Pacific).

The photographs show the 1564 Flight aircraft in its approach to RFA Wave Ruler and in the hover taking fuel during HIFR.