Two rowers rescued by ship after capsizing and drifting 920 miles off UK coast

Two rowers have been rescued by a merchant vessel after their boat capsized nearly 800 nautical miles off the British coast.

The pair were eventually saved by the ship, which had been diverted to the origin of a radio distress beacon in the Atlantic Ocean.

Teams at the Coastguard’s Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre (JRCC) received the signal from the pair at about 6.10am on Thursday.

The two crew members, from the Faroe Islands, were adrift nearly 800 nautical miles (1,482km) off Lands End, Cornwall, having taken to a life raft after their rowing vessel turned over and sank.

Rescuers contacted merchant vessels in the area to ask for help.

The closest craft was asked to alter course and proceed to the distress position where the alert – known as an EPIRB – had been set off.

EPIRB (emergency position-indicating radio beacon) is a type of radio transmitter used to send out a distress call.

Meanwhile, a Poseidon P8 aircraft from RAF Lossiemouth was scrambled to the position at about 11.30am and supported efforts by providing an overview of the rescue and a communications link from the scene back to the UK.

It is the first time one has been used for search and rescue in the UK.

The rowers were then rescued by the merchant vessel and were reported to be in “good health”, the Coastguard said.

JRCC Commander Rob Priestley said: “We are very grateful to the merchant vessel that stopped its busy schedule to rescue these survivors in very challenging weather conditions, and thankful to our friends at the RAF who provided such good support for this incident.”

Wing Commander Adam Smolak, commanding the RAF’s 201 Squadron, said: “We were delighted to support the Coastguard in this search and rescue operation.

“This operation showcases the world-leading capability of the Poseidon aircraft and, coupled with the highly skilled crews, we were able to bring to bear the capability at short notice and help rescue the rowers”.