Wonderful Christmastime Paul McCartney
HMS York, a Type-42 destroyer, was on exercise in the area when the Portland Coastguard received a weak signal from the Mary Flora shortly before her engine failed and the sails blew out.
The stricken 30ft sloop yacht, which had a crew of four and had been sailing from Alderney to Brixham, was around 10 miles south east of Start Point and trapped in worsening sea conditions as darkness fell on Monday evening.
HMS York quickly steamed towards the vessel with her crew of 230 sailors ready to assist with the rescue, and re-tasked her helicopter, a Lynx Mark 8 from 815 Squadron, to find and then liaise with the yacht crew. Her engineers and medics were also on standby to help if the Mary Flora's plight worsened.
Once their position was established, HMS York then stood by to ensure the Mary Flora remained afloat in the heightening winds while the Torbay RNLI launched their lifeboat Beth Sell to recover the vessel and her crew. By 11.45pm the yacht and her crew were safely ashore in Brixham.
HMS York's Commanding Officer, Commander Simon Staley, said:
"We were in the area conducting flight training when a garbled message was heard on the radio. My bridge team contacted Portland Coastguard to get more information.
"Once we knew where the yacht was we came up in speed and headed towards her. My aircraft, a Mark 8 Lynx helicopter, went ahead and located the yacht, standing by as HMS York approached. We provided protection for the yacht until the Torbay Lifeboat arrived to take over.
"This is another example of the flexibility of a warship and I had a team of diesel engine maintainers and medics ready to be put onto the stricken yacht. However, the crew were all well and were happy to wait for the lifeboat".
HMS York is currently conducting training in the South West and is due to return to Portsmouth on Thursday.