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"Stars aligned" for man in sea rescued by British Army's expert maritime troop off Chanonry Point


By Alasdair Fraser

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Rescue of man off Chanonry Point by 17 Port Maritime Regiment, Royal Logistics Corps
Rescue of man off Chanonry Point by 17 Port Maritime Regiment, Royal Logistics Corps

This is the moment a man swept out into the icy Moray Firth while trying to rescue his dog was saved by highly-trained British Army maritime soldiers.

The casualty spent more than 45 minutes missing and in peril after plunging into cold and stormy waters after the pet was caught in currents near Chanonry Point.

The Kessock Lifeboat launched and was joined in the search and rescue operation on Wednesday morning by an Aberdeen Coastguard helicopter.

The man was eventually located and hauled to safety by a crew of four members of Southampton-based 17 Port Maritime Regiment, Royal Logistics Corps, who were on exercise in the area.

They had only just set off in an army workboat from a temporary base at Inverness Marina when they heard the may-day call and re-directed.

Two other men who had entered the water had managed to return to shore by themselves, as did the dog, but fears were growing for its owner among anxious onlookers at the popular dolphin-spotting site.

Rescue of man off Chanonry Point by 17 Port Maritime Regiment, Royal Logistics Corps
Rescue of man off Chanonry Point by 17 Port Maritime Regiment, Royal Logistics Corps

It appears to have been to the distressed man’s great fortune that 17 Port Maritime were in the vicinity and ready to respond.

The regiment is the British Army’s only dedicated maritime troop and carries high levels of expertise in search and rescue and other maritime operations.

Sources close to the operation described the casualty as “an extremely lucky man” and said “the stars aligned” for him given the extra military help at hand.

It is understood he remained conscious and may have been partly insulated from the worst of the bitter cold by multiple layers of thick walking clothes he was wearing

Surface visibility had been poor for the rescue parties with strong winds whipping up the sea between Chanonry and Fort George.

It is understood the grateful man was able to stand up and talk to his rescuers after being hauled aboard the army workboat.

Rescue of man off Chanonry Point by 17 Port Maritime Regiment, Royal Logistics Corps
Rescue of man off Chanonry Point by 17 Port Maritime Regiment, Royal Logistics Corps

17 Port Maritime is described as a “highly-trained, highly-skilled” unit with the army’s only full-time maritime capability.

Intense and comprehensive training equips them for different maritime scenarios, while they are also taught to “think outside the box” in preparation for situations out of the ordinary

A British Army spokesman confirmed: “Our soldiers sprang to the rescue in seas off the Scottish coast.

“Taking part in a routine training exercise, a boat from 17 Port and Maritime Regiment RLC, Marchwood, received a mayday call and immediately started to search for a man in the water.

“They spotted and recovered the conscious civilian into their own boat, giving first aid and contacting the Aberdeen Coastguard helicopter.

Rescue of man off Chanonry Point by 17 Port Maritime Regiment, Royal Logistics Corps
Rescue of man off Chanonry Point by 17 Port Maritime Regiment, Royal Logistics Corps

“Within an hour of receiving the mayday message, he had been winched off to hospital.

We’re extremely proud of the quick-thinking of the crew.”

Lifeboat helm Jon Ashburner said: "The successful outcome for the casualty was a result of excellent teamwork from the volunteer crew of the RNLI lifeboat, in conjunction with local coastguard teams on the shore and Rescue 151 above.

"It's also a timely reminder to dog owners or onlookers to call 999 or 112 if they see a dog in difficulty in the water.

"The RNLI advises that you don't enter the water to rescue them as you put yourself in danger and the dog is naturally more able to get out than you."

Related stories:

Man airlifted to hospital in Inverness after going to the aid of a dog in the Moray Firth

Man swept away during dog rescue airlifted to hospital


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