THE build up of naval hardware off Jervis Bay ahead of the International Fleet Review in Sydney certainly proved lucky for two French sailors who were rescued after their yacht sank on Sunday.
A Seahawk helicopter from 816 Squadron at HMAS Albatross rescued the French husband and wife Bernard and Dominque Lorenceau, whose yacht sank 667 kilometres east of Jervis Bay.
The Seahawk helicopter winched the couple from a small boat after they abandoned their sinking yacht in rough conditions.
The sailors were returned to the navy frigate HMAS Perth where they remained before being transported to HMAS Albatross on Monday morning.
The navy said the pair were in satisfactory condition after suffering mild hyperthermia.
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority's (AMSA) Rescue Coordination Centre Australia (RCC Australia) was alerted by NSW Water Police about 11.15am on Sunday that a yacht (SV Inishkea), with the couple on board, was sinking about 385 nautical miles east of Eden.
The couple had contacted NSW Police via satellite phone.
RCC Australia tasked AMSA’s Essendon based Dornier search and rescue plane, issued a broadcast to shipping in the area and requested military assistance.
The Dornier located the stricken yacht just before 3.30pm and dropped a light stores container, including survival equipment, strobe lights and an EPIRB to the pair.
The pair abandoned the yacht for their two and a half metre inflatable tender.
A merchant ship responding to the shipping broadcast arrived at 6.25pm and located the couple who were using the flashing strobe lights dropped to them.
Four to five metre swells and 25 knot winds prevented the merchant ship from rescuing the pair.
The navy helicopter rescued the pair in darkness and challenging conditions, winching them to safety before they were transferred to HMAS Perth.
HMAS Perth Commanding Officer, Captain Lee Goddard said the rescue went very smoothly.
“The final piece of the rescue saw the Seahawk helicopter use its night vision capability to ensure a successful outcome,” Cpt Goddard said.
“The Rescue Coordination Centre did a great job managing a number of assets including ourselves, fixed wing aircraft and the merchant vessel Williams Strait.
“The same navy Seahawk departed HMAS Perth...and they returned to their home base at HMAS Albatross in Nowra.
“When they arrived Bernard and Dominque were met by officials and I’ve had reported, very happy and very safely on the Australian mainland.”
The Nowra-based helicopter and the Western Australian-based HMAS Perth are participating in maritime exercises in and around Jervis Bay and the East Australian Exercise Area prior to their involvement in the International Fleet Review in Sydney from October 4-10.
The when, where
• The ships will be moored between HMAS Creswell and Bowen Island, having arrived Tuesday, staying for Wednesday and leaving Thursday.
• Beaches in Booderee National Park, including Murrays Beach, Green Patch and Hole in the Wall should be good viewing areas.
• Shuttle buses will be operating between Vincentia High School on Wool Road and Hyams Beach every 15 minutes from 8am to 6pm on Wednesday, October 2.
• On the northern side of the bay, shuttle buses will transport people to Point Perpendicular Lighthouse from Impact Road. The lighthouse has lit the historic globe in celebration of the IFR which can be viewed anytime until Friday, October 4.
• The Lady Denman Museum will host a family day with food, music, market stalls and activities for children on Wednesday, October 2 from 10am to 2pm, as well as a special exhibition.
• Twilight markets will be held at White Sands Park, Huskisson on Wednesday, October 2 from 1pm to 7pm.
• A fireworks display will be held at Voyager Park, Huskisson on Wednesday, October 2 from 7.30pm.