Thurso, Longhope and Stromness lifeboats involved in rescue of missing diver
A major sea search was launched yesterday evening in the Pentland Firth after a scallop diver was reported missing off the coast of Orkney, near Burwick, South Ronaldsay.
Three RNLI Lifeboats were launched from Thurso, Longhope and Stromness, and two Coastguard Search and Rescue helicopters were dispatched, one from Sumburgh, Shetland and the other Dalcross, Inverness.
Local land based coastguard teams and local vessels have also been involved in the search for the diver, who was reported missing to Shetland Coastguard at around 5pm. The search has covered a wide area from Dunnet Head out to the Pentland Skerries, around the Islands within the Pentland Firth and the southern entrance to Scapa Flow.
The Lifeboats were stood down around 11pm and returned to their stations, but on arrival back at their stations, Coastguards decided to have the lifeboats refuel and return to carry out further searches.
Meanwhile, the Shetland Helicopter was stood down but the Inverness Helicopter continued searching.
Once re-launched, the three lifeboats were given areas to search and on completion of these searches the lifeboats were again stood down, between 2-3am.
Thurso lifeboat and her volunteer crew were on their way back to the station and almost at Scrabster when the message came through at 3.10am from Shetland Coastguard to say the diver had been found.
A Russian registered sail training vessel Yunyi Baltiets who had been sailing up the east coast of Scotland, had located the diver in the sea 1-2 miles east of Duncansby Head and retrieved him from the water. The vessel, which had a doctor on board, reported that the diver was alive and in reasonable health.
Thurso Lifeboat was immediately diverted back to meet the Yunyi Baltiets and rendezvoused with the vessel at 4am, 2 miles north of Duncansby Head.
The diver was taken aboard the Thurso lifeboat, where he was cold but communicating very well and appeared to be in reasonable health. The crew got him out of his diving gear and into warm dry clothes and the medic on board checked him over. The diver told the lifeboat crew when he saw the sail vessel he swam towards it and managed to catch their attention, despite it being dark at the time.
On arrival in Scrabster the Diver quickly posed for a photo showing how happy he was, before being checked over by the Ambulance crew and transferred to Wick General Hospital as a precaution.
The Thurso crew were on service for just over 12 hours in total, however the diver was actually in the water for 11 hours.
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