Three people are now on board HMAS Parramatta after being rescued from a stricken yacht in extremely rough seas more than 1300km (or less than 840km, depending on which Defence ‘fact’ you choose – see here for explanation) off the Western Australian coast, in the southern Indian Ocean.
CAPTION: A Royal Australian Navy rescue diver from HMAS Parramatta’s Seahwak Helicopter ‘Blackjack’ prepares to extract the three-man crew from stricken yacht ‘Jedi 1’.
The crew activated an emergency response beacon (EPIRB) after the 13m South African-registered yacht ‘Jedi 1’ lost its mast in the rough conditions.
Given the distance involved and the weather conditions, the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre formally requested Australian Defence Force support in order to reach the sailors as quickly as possible.
HMAS Parramatta, which was already at sea off the WA coast, was tasked at short notice to conduct the operation.
A Royal Australian Air Force P3 Orion was also placed on stand-by but was not required.
An AMSA search and rescue jet established the yacht’s location and provided the crew with communications equipment.
The crew of Parramatta’s Seahawk helicopter, call sign ‘Blackjack’, sighted the yacht late afternoon on Saturday and established communications with her crew.
In difficult weather conditions, which included a heavy south-westerly swell, the South African crew members of ‘Jedi 1’ were winched aboard the helicopter before being returned to HMAS Parramatta in good health.
Once safely onboard Parramatta the three sailors were provided with clean clothes and food, and an opportunity to contact family.
HMAS Parramatta’s Commanding Officer Commander Simon Howard praised the ship and her crew following the successful rescue of the sailors.
“This was a very professionally executed operation in extremely trying conditions,” Commander Howard said.
“The Royal Australian Navy is extremely well equipped and our personnel are highly trained to provide specialist assistance to search and rescue (SAR) activities in our region.
“We remain ready and able to respond to emergencies in support of our national SAR agency.”
The ‘Jedi 1’ crew is now being transported to Albany onboard Parramatta and are expected to be back on dry land mid-afternoon tomorrow, 20 March 2017.