Two yacht sailors are alive and back in the arms of their loved ones after a dramatic rescue in extreme sea conditions by the crew of the Royal Australian Navy Destroyer HMAS Brisbane. The two experienced mariners struck difficulty when their yacht capsized approximately 15 nautical miles off Wollongong on the NSW South Coast.

The Joint Rescue Coordination Centre reported the vessel missing and initiated a search shortly after 1pm and HMAS Brisbane responded to the call, reaching the 60 square nautical mile search area about an hour later. After a sighting of the upturned yacht was promptly reported by the passing merchant vessel MV Arietta Lily just after 3pm, Brisbane was able to head directly to its position for a rescue.

The two yacht sailors were found clinging to the hull of their vessel and were rescued by the destroyer’s Rigid Hulled Inflatable Boat (RHIB) in 56 kilometre per hour winds and two metre swells. Despite spending 15 hours in the ocean, the two sailors were assessed as being in good condition as Brisbane made the journey back to Sydney to reunite the survivors with their loved ones.

Following the rescue, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority thanked the vessels involved in an official message. “JRCC Australia and NSW Water Police would like to thank the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and the Master and crew of Arietta Lily for their assistance rescuing the crew. The quick response of the ADF and Arietta Lily to our distress broadcast was in the finest traditions of seafarers, and we appreciate the commendable seamanship of both Arietta Lily and HMAS Brisbane in sighting the survivors, maintaining visual contact and coordinating a response, and then recovering them in challenging conditions,” the message read.

HMAS Brisbane Commanding Officer, Commander Kingsley Scarce, said the ship’s company were pleased to play their part in the rescue, and paid tribute to their bravery in difficult conditions. “We were happy that we could come to the aid of fellow mariners in their time of need today. Tremendous teamwork from all of Brisbane’s crew, from those who coordinated the search effort and response, to the bridge crew and lookouts, to those who provided medical care and hospitality to the survivors once rescued, and to all others who supported. The entire crew was eager to do whatever they could in the rescue effort. I want to particularly acknowledge the bravery of the sea boat crew who conducted the rescue in appalling sea conditions,” Commander Scarce said.

The survivors were reunited with families at Fleet Base East at around 7pm on Saturday. The location of the stricken yacht has been reported to the Australian Maritime Safety Authority which has notified all vessels of the navigation hazard.

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