Kayaker rescued by Royal Navy patrol boat HMS Smiter after capsizing in the Solent

A 61-year-old kayaker today owes his life to the crew of a Royal Navy patrol boat who spotted his upturned kayak in the Solent following a mayday call.

A student aboard HMS Smiter spied a black object in the water off Lee-on-the-Solent as the boat and RNLI responded to an SOS: a kayaker had capsized and was unable to right himself in his craft.

Smiter, which was conducting a regular weekend patrol with students from universities in London, responded to the Mayday around lunchtime yesterday [SUNDAY NOV 27].

Lookouts on board quickly sighted the overturned kayak near a cluster of yachts, but there was no sign of the kayaker himself.

This incident could have been critical for the diabetic kayaker given his age, health and conditions on the day.

Lt Stephanie Buttery RN

Thanks to the vessel’s height advantage over the RNLI’s speedboats, he was spotted a few minutes later about a mile away from his craft.

“One of the students reported a black floating object and we went to investigate,” explained Lt Stephanie Buttery, Smiter’s Commanding Officer.

“As we got closer realised it was he man. We tried to recover him by the pilot ladder but he was in and out of consciousness, so we set up the recovery stretcher used for unconscious casualties.

“Once he was onboard we offered initial first aid in company with the local RNLI who were onboard by now and I began coordinating with Solent Coastguard.”

The Coastguard helicopter quickly appeared and the casualty was winched to safety, before being flown to hospital in Southampton. The whole rescue operation lasted just 30 minutes.

“This incident could have been critical for the diabetic kayaker given his age, health and conditions on the day,” Lt Buttery added.