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Missing divers found by helicopter

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Two missing divers were rescued after a HM Coastguard helicopter was able to direct lifeboat crew to them – and having DSMBs was a vital part of them being seen.

The Coastguard helicopter from Lydd was sent to conduct a search shortly before 3.15pm on 11 September, following a report from a dive boat approximately four nautical miles northeast of the Port of Dover. The vessel reported two divers overdue by 15 minutes, with the vessel also experiencing engine trouble and unable to search.

Dover and Walmer RNLI lifeboats were also launched, alongside Langdon Coastguard Rescue Team and South East Coast Ambulance Service.

Following searches, the helicopter found the divers bobbing in the water with high-visibility DSMBs and was able to direct Walmer lifeboat to the two, near the South West Goodwin buoy.

The helicopter then stayed on scene as the lifeboat worked to bring the two out of the water.

The lifeboat returned to shore where they were met by Langdon coastguards, to conduct welfare checks. Meanwhile, Dover lifeboat were sent to tow the dive vessel back to shore.

HM Coastguard’s network commander said: “The dive vessel initially triggered a PanPan alert but almost immediately upgraded it to a Mayday when they realised they would be unable to search for their crew.

“It was the right thing to do as we were immediately able to send resources to search for them. The Lydd helicopter spotted them in the water – helped by the high-vis DSMBs they had – and was able to direct the lifeboat to them and get them out of the water as soon as possible.

“They did everything right in having the appropriate equipment – with a means of calling for help, recognising when it was time to call for help and then having the right kit to be easily seen in the water.

“Things can go wrong at sea so it is vital that you are prepared.”

If you’re planning a trip to the coast or sea, check out our safety advice on the website.

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Ian Grout
Ian Grout
6 months ago

I’d also add a snorkel as essential safety equipment too.
Being one of the above divers our experience has proved this to be the case.
At the time, whilst in the water we are completely helpless to do more than await and rely on others. In water comfort for however long we might have to wait was greatly helped by a simple snorkel.
Remember we have surfaced a the end of our dive, the remaing gas on our backs won’t last too long at the surface and better used to keep our dsmbs, suits, bcds etc inflated whilst we waited rescue.
We were aware there were issues with the boat but unable to communicate with it and despite our dsmb’s size the boat had lost sight of us in the water.
We set about preparing ourselves for however long was needed until assistance came.
We linked ourselves together with a jon-line so we had space to manage independently but would not drift apart. We also inflated all our dsmbs to make us as visible in the water as possible. We remained clipped to the fixed down line (our last known position in the water) before for as long as the tide permitted before letting go and drifting with the tide but almost as soon as we had done so the helicopter arrived overhead and the rest as they say is history.
Our boatman was faultless in his actions and once help was called for the swiftness and resource used to implement our rescue was impressive, professional and caring to say the least. Apparently from the time the lifeboat pagers went off to getting hands on us in the water was somthing like 11 minutes!
Big thanks to all involved.
Grouty.

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Mark Evans
Scuba Diver's Editorial Director Mark Evans has been in the diving industry for nearly 25 years, and has been diving since he was just 12 years old. nearly 40-odd years later and he is still addicted to the underwater world.
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