HMS Puncher rescues stricken fishing boat

Royal Navy vessel HMS Puncher went to the rescue of a stricken fishing boat while carrying out training off Plymouth.

Without power and unable to radio for help, the fishermen on the troubled boat had to use their mobile phones to alert the Coastguard, as they drifted dangerously towards the coast.

The Coastguard then requested other vessels within the vicinity to assist.

HMS Puncher, a P2000 of the Coastal Forces Squadron, was conducting routine navigation training for Young Officers around the Devon and Cornish coasts. Puncher responded to the call and immediately proceeded to the fishing boat’s last known location.

But without any power, the fishing boat could not give an accurate location of where they were as they continued to drift towards the rocky shore. After several searches of incorrect locations, a google map screenshot from the fisherman’s mobile phone aided in finding the small fishing boat.

There was a lot of thinking on our feet and I was impressed by all their hard work.

Lieutenant Phil Hack, Commanding Officer of HMS Puncher

Bringing them alongside, HMS Puncher’s crew set about assessing the situation and carrying out repairs. The Naval engineers got to work on fixing the engine, the inventive seamanship skills of the Navigator’s Yeoman secured the boat and the Young Officers onboard dealt with the welfare of the fishing boat’s crew.

A repair to the engine of the fishing boat was attempted, however, within 100 metres she broke down again and HMS Puncher towed the fishing vessel safely into Plymouth. The whole rescue lasted more than five hours.

“My crew put in an outstanding effort over the long duration of the rescue operation,” said Lieutenant Phil Hack, Commanding Officer of HMS Puncher.

“There was a lot of thinking on our feet and I was impressed by all their hard work. We were 700 metres off the shore by the time we got them underway and we recovered them all safely in the scorching summer heat.”