HMS Northumberland returning to UK for Christmas diverts to aid stricken yacht

Dee Caffari’s Open 60 Aviva has been dismasted approximately 140 miles north-west of the Spanish coast, as she approached the finish of the single-handed Transat Ecover Bahia to Brittany race. Damage to a daggerboard and one of her rudders means the yacht is incapacitated and she has insufficient fuel to motor ashore.

Falmouth Coastguard contacted the Royal Navy, which confirmed that HMS Northumberland was in a position approximately 90 miles away from the Aviva could divert to assist.

Lt Cmdr George Walker on board HMS Northumberland, the warship standing by Dee Caffari in the Bay of Biscay, told PBO the latest:

‘Dee is about 600 yards from the ship. We’re standing by to protect her from any shipping, waiting for a tug from Spain, which we are told is about three or four hours away. We contacted her last night at about 2300 UTC. She sounded calm and happy to see us. Current conditions are fine with 15 knot winds and a long slow swell, a significant improvement on yesterday morning when the dismasting occured in winds up to 50 knots. Once the tug has arrived, we will resume our return trip back to Plymouth, still planning to arrive back in Devonport in time for Christmas after four months away in the Mediterranean and the Red Sea.”