The UK Royal Air Force’s (RAF) P-8A Poseidon multi-role maritime patrol aircraft has carried out search and rescue (SAR) duties for the first time.

The RAF’s aircraft is operated by 201 Squadron and CXX Squadron based at RAF Lossiemouth in Moray, northeast Scotland.

Poseidon crew from the 201 Squadron maritime reconnaissance team were called to respond to an emergency transmission from the life raft.

The first SAR mission for the Poseidon aircraft involved rescuing two transatlantic rowers.

201 Squadron Officer Commanding wing commander Adam Smolak said: “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.”

On 18 August, the UK Her Majesty’s Coastguard (HMCG) discovered that the rowing vessel of the two Faroese crew members had overturned and sunk, after which they had taken a life raft.

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The HMCG coordinated with the merchant vessels in the area and a Nordic Qinngua ship sailed toward the rowers.

Meanwhile, the P-8A crew established communications with the merchant vessel and visual contact with the life raft.

After reaching the scene, the crew of Poseidon aircraft coordinated with the merchant ship to convey the information back to the UK mission controllers to carry out the rescue efforts further.

RAF mission commander flight lieutenant Daz Williams said: “We were able to get eyes on the merchant ship and the lifeboat in good time which allowed us to relay their positions back to the UK.

“The conditions made rescue very difficult but thanks to some skilful manoeuvring, the ship managed to bring the life raft alongside and recover the rowers.”