R151 above Stornoway airfield during the rescue transfer. (Picture by Peter Shearer)

Stornoway Coastguard’s Maritime Operations Control Centre co-ordinated an extreme-range rescue yesterday (Tuesday May 7th) when a crewman was injured far out in the North Atlantic.

The Peterhead-registered fishing vessel Benarkle 2 was working far out to the west of Rockall, 139 nautical miles west of St Kilda, when the crewman sustained a hand injury while working.

An emergency call to Stornoway Coastguard at 6.30am was followed by radio medical advice for a time, until it became obvious that the injury was too serious and the man had to be brought to hospital.

The Stornoway-based search and rescue team with Bristows helicopter R948 took off at 1.10pm and flew at an average speed of 130mph towards the vessel, reaching them one hour later, winching the casualty aboard and landing him at 3.10pm at Stornoway airport.

He was immediately transferred to the waiting helicopter R151, one of two brand new Inverness-based Leonardo AW189 helicopters, serving the Highlands and Islands and further afield as part of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency’s airborne response. These craft were only put into service with MCA on May 1st and it was the first visit for either of them to Stornoway.

The man was flown on to Raigmore Hospital for treatment, on board R151. A Stornoway Coastguard spokesman said: “It was challenging from the point of view of the distance that needed to be covered, and since R948 had flown to the limit of its range a transfer needed to be made.”

Inverness SAR crew members Captain Simon Hancock and Tom Greene are pictured with the new Leonardo helicopters (Maritime and Coastguard Agency).