A Royal Navy air crew has winched a survivor to safety after a tanker sank in the Indian Ocean.
The Wildcat helicopter was scrambled when the Rama 2 put out a mayday call 140 miles from an island in the Gulf of Yemen.
The first 12 crew members were pulled to safety by merchant vessels, directed by British naval authorities in Bahrain.
Meanwhile, the Royal Navy helicopter flew from Type 23 frigate HMS Monmouth to the scene, refuelling on naval support vessel RFA Cardigan Bay en route.
Air Engineering Technician Stu Rogers was winched down to rescue the sailor and was repeatedly swamped by waves during the half-hour operation.
The 14th crew member was not found. AET Rogers said:
“It was a difficult sortie. We were close to the wire but it was great that we were able to get him on board.
“A 30-minute attempt to get him hooked up was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do since joining the Fleet Air Arm.”
Black Jack’s flight commander, Lieutenant Ash Morgan, said: “This rescue was tricky due to the time we had to transit after the ‘lily-pad’ on RFA Cardigan Bay and then looking for a sole survivor in open water with very choppy conditions.”
A Navy spokesman said:
“The survivor was immediately checked by the Cardigan Bay’s medical officer and assessed to be fit and well, but somewhat battered.”
“It was estimated that he had been in the water since the Rama 2 sank earlier in the day. None of the tanker’s crew had been able to get into life rafts because of the bad weather.
“The 13 survivors were reunited aboard the merchant vessel Tortola, which had rescued 10 of the crew, and taken to Salalah in Oman.
“Despite an extensive search, the missing 14th member of the crew was not found. He is presumed dead.”