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Briton injured by seal on remote Atlantic island rescued by Navy and RAF

Published 28/11/2015

A Briton who received a serious seal bite on a remote South Atlantic island was rescued by the Royal Navy and RAF
A Briton who received a serious seal bite on a remote South Atlantic island was rescued by the Royal Navy and RAF

A British man who suffered a serious seal bite on a remote South Atlantic island was rescued by a joint Royal Navy and Royal Air Force effort.

The man had been visiting South Georgia, a small and frozen island 800 nautical miles to the east of the Falklands, on a polar cruise.

He was bitten by what is thought to have been a fur seal at Salisbury Plain Beach.

Fur seals are larger than normal seals, weighing up to 317 kg (700 lbs) and can walk or even run on their flippers. They gather on beaches in large numbers during mating season and can be aggressive.

The man is said to have in a serious condition with a major injury to his arm, and urgently needed specialist attention.

The boat he had been travelling on, the MV Akademic Sergei Vavilov, a polar research vessel, was taking him back to Port Stanley, the capital of the Falkland Islands.

As the cruise ship headed for Stanley, British forces launched a rescue mission coordinated from the joint headquarters at Mount Pleasant, also on the Falklands.

HMS Clyde sailed at speed to a position 200 nautical miles east of Stanley. An RAF Hercules and RAF Search and Rescue helicopter were launched with a British military doctor aboard.

Because the journey was so long the helicopter had to fly to HMS Clyde for refuelling before travelling a further 100 nautical miles to the Akademic Sergei Vavilov.

Once the helicopter was in position over the cruise ship, the casualty was winched into the helicopter, which then returned to Stanley.

Commodore Darren Bone, Commander of British Forces South Atlantic Islands, said: "We all wish the patient well and are delighted that we were able to deliver him to hospital in Stanley over 24 hours earlier than would have been the case had he remained on the ship.

"This successful rescue operation, conducted at maximum range from the Falkland Islands, demonstrates very clearly the value and capability of British naval and air forces working together.

"It also highlights the professionalism and dedication of my people, and comes just a week after British Forces worked with the Falkland Islands government and others to rescue all 347 passengers and crew from the stricken French cruise ship Le Boreal."

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