From VP-45 Public Affairs
Her Majesty's coast guard received an emergency beacon from Clyde Challenger, a 60-foot sailboat transiting from the Azores back to the United Kingdom (UK), Feb. 10.
The sailboat took on a rogue wave which snapped its mast, leaving it stranded in a severe sea state and weather conditions.
A nearby ship, UK tanker CPO Ferdinand, responded to the distress signal and shielded and monitored the vessel until further relief could arrive.
Sailors from the "Pelicans" of Patrol Squadron (VP) 45 responded to the call, and dispatched two crews and two P-8A Poseidon aircraft to provide aerial coverage while waiting for Royal navy destroyer HMS Dragon (D35) to arrive on station.
"P-8 presence on station provided continuous, rescue scene condition updates to Her Majesty's coastguard and facilitated a communications relay between the Clyde Challenger crew and the HMS Dragon," said Lt. Rodrigo Cunha, VP-45 tactical coordinator.
Lt. Lindianna Steffan, mission commander, and her P-8 crew arrived on station and established a 30-minute communications window with Clyde Challenger, maintaining updates on the crew's status and overall health of the vessel.
"It was a privilege to be the communications relay and provide the crew with any updates to the status of their rescue," said Lt. Caroline Sabatt, VP-45 tactical coordinator.
"We were thrilled to be able to inform them when the HMS Dragon was inbound and provide their instructions for rescue. You could hear the relief in their voices knowing that help was on the way and the rescue would commence soon."
Dragon was conducting routine operations when the ship was diverted to assist in the rescue operations. The second P-8A crew, led by Lt. Cmdr. Michael Winters remained on station and assisted vectoring Dragon to intercept Clyde Challenger.
The crew was able to maintain eyes on Clyde Challenger and witnessed four of the crewmembers' safe transfer from the sailboat to Dragon. All 14 personnel on Clyde Challenger were safely rescued.
"Supporting this mission highlights the P-8A's ability to respond quickly to a crisis situation, in this case 1,500 nautical miles from home base," said Capt. Bill Ellis, commander, Task Force 67.
"While on scene, our crews were able to monitor and provide updates of the Clyde Challenger through the night, and help coordinate the arrival and rescue efforts of the HMS Dragon. For the crew of the Clyde Challenger and their worried family members at home, it's reassuring to know that someone is watching over them while help is on the way. I'm very proud of the VP-45 Pelicans for their rapid response and role in this rescue at sea."
VP-45 is in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operation in support of U.S. national security interests in Europe and Africa.
The P-8A Poseidon is a long-range, anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft.
As the Navy's replacement platform for the P-3C Orion, the P-8A is capable of broad-area maritime and littoral operations.