Belfast Telegraph

Monday 29 December 2014

RAF rescues stricken fisherman

An RAF search and rescue helicopter from A Flight, 22 Squadron, attends a French trawler in atrocious weather in the Irish Sea (PA/MOD)
An RAF search and rescue helicopter from A Flight, 22 Squadron, attends a French trawler in atrocious weather in the Irish Sea (PA/MOD)
The French fishing vessel has a seriously injured crewman aboard (PA/MOD)
The injured crewman is taken to safety by the RAF search and rescue helicopter (PA/MOD)

These dramatic pictures show how an RAF crew battled howling winds and lashing rain to rescue a seriously injured French fisherman from a stricken vessel.

The fisherman had suffered blows to his head as his trawler rose and fell up to 40 feet in surging waves.

The captain of the boat, rescued 50 miles to the west of Welsh port town Milford Haven in the Irish Sea, spoke little English so translation had to be arranged by satellite phone.

With help from English and French coastguards, the RAF crew relayed information on how best to get the injured crewman off the boat.

HMS Echo, a Royal Navy vessel, and RNLI lifeboat Angle also attended Thursday's rescue.

RAF Sergeant Rachel Robinson made six attempts to be winched on to the French boat as the swell threatened to roll the vessel.

Several attempts were made to transfer the casualty to the RNLI lifeboat - and the helicopter was forced to return to land to refuel - before Sergeant Robinson successfully boarded the French trawler.

The fisherman was lifted to safety and treated for head injuries and hypothermia as the RAF helicopter took him to Swansea's Morriston Hospital

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