Parramatta saves yachtsmen in Southern Ocean

This article has photo gallery Published on CMDR Chloe Griggs (author), Unknown (photographer)

Location(s): Southern Ocean

Topic(s): Operations, Helicopters, S-70B-2 Seahawk, Ships, Boats and Submarines, Frigate Helicopter (FFH), HMAS Parramatta (F154), Search and Rescue (SAR), Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS)

HMAS Parramatta's Seahawk helicopter moves into position above stricken yacht 'Jedi 1' and prepares to winch her crew to safety. (photo: unknown)
HMAS Parramatta's Seahawk helicopter moves into position above stricken yacht 'Jedi 1' and prepares to winch her crew to safety.

Australian Navy frigate, HMAS Parramatta has rescued three South African sailors from a stricken yacht approximately 1,300 kilometres southwest of Cape Leeuwin in Western Australia.

The three yachtsmen of the 13-metre yacht activated an emergency response beacon late on 17 March, when their mast was lost in rough seas on a journey from South Africa to New Zealand. It was their intention to abandon the vessel.

The resuce was coordinated by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority and to get to the sailors as quickly and safely as possible, the warship was retasked to sail to the yacht’s position.

Parramatta was at sea off the Western Australian coast, and located the yacht after a Maritime Saftey Authority search and rescue jet established the yacht’s location and provided the crew with communications equipment.

Parramatta’s Seahawk helicopter sighted the yacht late in the afternoon of 18 March, established communications and assessed the conditions to require rescue by air.

In a heavy south westerly swell, the men were safely rescued by the Navy aircrew, by being winched onboard the helicopter before being transferred to Parramatta.

Commanding Officer Commander Simon Howard said that safety of life at sea underpinned the actions of his ship and his crew.

“This was a very professionally executed operation, in extremely trying conditions,” he said.

“The Royal Australian Navy is well equipped and our personnel, highly trained to provide specialist assistance to search and rescue activities in our region.

“We remain ready and able to respond to emergencies.”

Once safely onboard Parramatta the three sailors were assessed as being in good health by the ship’s medical team.  They were provided with clean clothes, food and the opportunity to contact family. 

Australia has search and rescue responsibility for an area of nearly 53 million square kilometres, which is around one tenth of the world’s surface.