Navy rescues fishing boat skipper

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A ROYAL Navy vessel was involved in a dramatic sea rescue off Rye this week

Portsmouth-based Royal Navy patrol vessel HMS Mersey rushed to the aid of an angling boat after its skipper became ill on Monday.

Mersey was on routine fishery protection patrols south-west of Rye, when she heard a distress call to Dover coastguard on her VHF radio at 10.20am.

The ship’s offer of help was accepted by the coastguard and her seaboat was launched immediately to assist the 10-metre vessel Christy Ann which was 12 miles away.

RN first-aiders on the seaboat – Petty Officer Rick Bonell and Leading Chef Felicity Liggins – stabilised the unwell skipper a local man in his 50s, and gave reassurance to the four passengers on board.

Ten minutes later the coastguard rescue helicopter based at Lee-on-Solent arrived on scene and winched the man to Eastbourne Hospital.

HMS Mersey then put Lieutenant Paul Kilbride – the ship’s First Lieutenant – in Christy Ann to ‘drive’ the vessel to Rye Harbour.

Lt Paul Lane, who helped coordinate the rescue from HMS Mersey’s bridge, said: “We were pleased to be able to help in this way. The fishing vessel was operating in an extremely busy part of the English Channel and we knew she would need help as soon as possible.

“The coastguard were full of praise for the ship’s medical team and sent them a special message of thanks once the casualty was safely transferred to hospital.”