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Hebrides News


Two coastguard helicopters have completed a long range rescue in gale force conditions off the Western Isles.

A seriously ill fisherman required to be airlifted off a trawler over 200 west off Benbecula.

His condition meant that he needed to be transferred for urgent medical attention but the vessel’s distance from land created a challenge - not to mention the very rough seas that she was experiencing.

The UK Coastguard was called and sent two coastguard search and rescue helicopters, one from Inverness and one from Stornoway.

Stornoway’s helicopter flew to the vessel and winched the man on board in deteriorating weather.

The Inverness helicopter acted as additional support known as top cover.

The casualty was flown to Balivanich Airport where he was transferred to the Inverness aircraft and flown to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary for further treatment.

Captain Andy Pilliner who piloted the Stornoway helicopter said:  “As is often the case with rescues a significant distance out to sea, the weather presented a substantial challenge.

“The sea state was rough to very rough, resulting in the fishing vessel suffering considerable heave, pitch and roll, which made the winching difficult.  

“The vessel did all it could to help make the transfer as safe as possible, steering a course to minimise the effects of the sea, while volunteers from the crew grappled with a heaving-in line to attempt to stabilise the winchman and casualty.  

“Nevertheless, it was a challenging winch that went well given the conditions of the deck.”

He added: “Throughout the rescue we were reassured to have our colleagues from the Inverness SAR unit providing us with support in case we needed it.

Captain Simon Hammock who piloted the Inverness coastguard helicopter said:  'The extreme range, strong headwinds and very rough seas required additional planning and co-ordination with the ARCC playing a pivotal role.  

“The plan worked well and whilst it was good to have assisted, it was the crew of Stornoway Rescue 948 who did all the hard work on scene.”


Long range rescue off Western Isles

18 August 2017