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Destroyer HMS Duncan Saves a Yacht in Foul Weather

HMS Duncan
HMS Duncan (Royal Navy file image)

Published Jun 22, 2022 10:48 PM by The Maritime Executive

During sea trials near Weymouth, UK, the Royal Navy destroyer HMS Duncan took on a search-and-rescue role at the request of HM Coastguard, saving a motor yacht that had drifted out to sea with a stalled engine. 

At about 1730 hours Saturday, the Type 45 destroyer was at anchor in Weymouth Bay when her crew received a call from the coast guard about a nearby boat in distress. The yacht was adrift near Portland Bill and was being pulled out into the English Channel by the wind and the tide. It had no flares or radio gear on board. 

Sea conditions were rough and worsening, with winds of up to 35 knots and low visibility, but the warship launched a 24-meter boat with an engineer and a medic aboard to find the yacht. The search was rough going in the surface conditions on scene, and the team was about to call off the effort when a member of the crew spotted the yacht's mast. 

Despite heavy seas, the boat crew maneuvered safely alongside and transferred over the engineer. He reassured the sole sailor aboard the yacht and made the necessary repairs to the engine. The team then handed off the response to the Weymouth RNLI lifeboat crew and returned to their ship. 

“It took real skill to put us alongside in the heavy sea without hitting the other vessel, with waves crashing over the front of the boat," said Petty Officer Tom Austin, the medical assistant on the launch. “The individual onboard was in the later stages of shock and clearly in a dire condition. I’m glad that we were able to make a difference.”

HMS Duncan is a Type 45 air defense destroyer commissioned in 2013, and she is the last in a series of six. Among other career highlights, she has played a role in strikes against the Islamic State in Iraq, served as flagship of NATO Standing Maritime Naval Group 2, and deployed to the Persian Gulf to protect shipping interests from Iranian interference.