Sea Patrol UK

Tuesday 14 December, 8:00pm on Five

Documentary series following the elite teams that patrol the waters around the UK’s south coast. In this week’s final instalment, there is a cliff-face drama for the RAF as a rescue crew battles to save a badly injured climber. Elsewhere, a multi-agency operation is launched in Cornwall to locate a missing woman, a deep-sea dive gets underway in the Channel to chart the secrets of a 17th-century shipwreck, and a Royal Navy warship calls upon the RAF to rescue an injured sailor. For the elite emergency teams based on the south coast of England, enforcing order and combating disaster at sea is a 24 hour-a-day job. The RAF, Royal Navy, RNLI and UK Border Agency work together to uphold law and order and protect stricken visitors, in a domain that stretches from Dover to Land’s End. At Royal Marines Base Chivenor on the north coast of Devon, an emergency call comes in to the RAF search and rescue (SAR) crew. On the other side of the Bristol Channel, a rock climber has fallen and sustained a serious ankle injury. With details still sketchy, winchman Sgt Ryan Thomas and the crew race to the scene to assess the situation. “Let’s go out and see what we’ve got,” says Sgt Thomas. During the flight, the SAR crew learns more about the casualty. The 50-year-old man has fallen from a cliff and suffered a compound fracture to the ankle. More importantly, he is suspended on an abseil rope beneath a ledge. “That piece of information makes a lot of difference,” says Sgt Thomas. Having prepared for a rescue from the ground, Sgt Thomas must change his kit and reassess the rescue plan. Upon arrival at the scene, an incoming weather report warns of turbulence, adding to the team’s mounting woes. “This will involve a lot of skill for the guys upstairs,” says Sgt Thomas. “At one point we are going to be connected to the rock via his rope and our winching equipment. It’s a dangerous time.” Over at the Falmouth control centre, the day kicks off with a call from Plymouth police requesting assistance with a high-risk missing-person case. A vulnerable woman was last spotted heading towards the picturesque but potentially dangerous Godrevy Cove in Cornwall in the early morning, and has not been seen since. Coastguard rescue officer Tony Marsland leads a team from Falmouth on a detailed search of the beach to look for any clues to the woman’s whereabouts. “We’re all very keen to have a successful outcome,” he says. “We’ll be doing our damnedest to find her.”

Tuesday 7 December, 8:00pm on Five

Documentary series following the elite teams that patrol the waters around the UK’s south coast. This week, there is a dramatic fire drill aboard the world’s biggest ocean liner, the QM2. RAF rescue 169 rushes to the aid of a fallen climber with a serious wrist injury, and a family with two young children is rescued from a rapidly advancing tide. The crew of RAF rescue 169 is out on a routine training operation when a call comes in from Swansea coastguard, alerting the lads to a climber who has fallen from cliffs near Bridgend in south Wales. The climber is trapped at the foot of the cliffs after falling five metres onto a brutal terrain of sharp limestone rock. To add to the casualty’s woes, the tide is coming in quickly, putting him at serious risk of drowning. The casualty is positioned below an overhang, which could cause the crew serious problems. However, pilot Olly Padmore is on hand to skilfully manoeuvre winchman Sgt Paul ‘Haz’ Hunter to the beach below. Once safely on firm ground, Sgt Hunter discovers that the casualty is suffering from a gruesome wrist fracture that has caused the bone to penetrate the skin. He administers morphine to the injured man, but he still cries out in agony. With just two minutes to go before the entire beach is swamped by the incoming tide, the crew faces a challenging winch to get the casualty to safety. “That was one of the trickiest winches I’ve ever done,” a relieved Sgt Hunter says once safely back on board. “It was really challenging.” Across the English Channel, a very different type of challenge is getting underway. The world’s biggest ocean liner, the Queen Mary 2, is due for its annual safety inspection in Zeebrugge, and owner Cunard has pulled out all the stops. Maritime and Coastguard Agency surveyors Simon and Derrick will be presiding over a simulated fire drill, which will be sprung unannounced on the crew. The ship’s 1,253 crew members are summoned to the planetarium, where they are expecting a safety lecture. However, the end of Simon’s speech coincides with the breakout of a fake fire – with special effects designed by the ship’s entertainment crew.

Tuesday 30 November, 8:00pm on Five

The documentary series following the elite teams that patrol the waters around the UK’s south coast continues. This week, an RAF rescue team embarks on a desperate search for a missing diver, a day trip disaster traps nine people on notorious mudflats, a 100-tonne whale washes up on a Cornish beach and a vintage vessel is given the once-over before facing its final voyage. Loaded with hi-tech cameras, satnavs and radars, the Sea King helicopters at RAF Chivenor are specially designed to survey vast areas of land and sea. When an emergency call comes in of a diver missing in the sea near Skomer Island, the Sea King offers the casualty the best hope of survival. Once airborne, Pilot Olly Padbury and the crew are at the scene within 30 minutes. Lifeboat crews are already searching the area, but the diver has not been seen for over half an hour and hypothermia is a distinct possibility. “We’ve got to prepare for the worst,” says winchman and paramedic Sgt Ryan Thomas. After over an hour of searching, Olly and the crew have had no success. With every passing minute the diver is missing, the chances of finding him alive decrease. Just as the RAF crew is about to return to base to refuel, a call comes in from a tanker reporting a possible sighting. Miraculously, the missing diver has been spotted in the water by the skipper of a passing ship – and he appears to be safe and well. Following a short flight to the reported location, Ryan winches the diver to safety. “He is the luckiest person I’ve ever met,” reflects Ryan. “He owes that tanker captain a pint, I reckon!” Over at Falmouth, the coastguard control centre has been inundated with calls about an unusual visitor to the Cornish shores. Near the village of Porthtowan, a dead 60ft fin whale has been washed up on the beach, and is causing quite a stir. It is the local council’s responsibility to dispose of the 100-tonne carcass, but there is some debate about how best to deal with it. Some locals think it should be towed out to sea and sunk, others think it should be left alone for nature to take its course, and others think it should be blown up. For now, however, all the St Agnes lifeboat crew can do is ensure that no tourists become stranded in the cove while looking at the massive creature. While the council members consider their options, a team of scientists from the Veterinary Laboratories Agency arrives to assess the risks posed to the public by the decomposing body. Picking his way through the crowds, Nick Davidson collects samples of the animal’s flesh to test for harmful bacteria.

Tuesday 23 November, 8:00pm on Five

The documentary series following the elite teams that patrol the waters around the UK’s south coast continues. In this instalment, a seriously injured sailor is rescued from a Chinese container ship, a father and his young son find themselves cut off by the tide in Devon, and a sand surfer’s day out at the beach ends in disaster. For the elite emergency teams based on the south coast of England, enforcing order and combating disaster at sea is a 24 hour-a-day job. The RAF, Royal Navy, RNLI and UK Border Agency work together to uphold law and order and protect stricken visitors, in a domain that stretches from Dover to Land’s End. The Dover RNLI crew is scrambled after an emergency call comes in from a container ship located 20km out in the English Channel. A sailor on board the Chinese vessel has suffered a serious head injury after slipping on deck, but the only available helicopter crew is based 190km away. The coastguard has difficulty getting the panicked captain to calm down, so the exact nature of the casualty’s injuries is unclear. When RNLI first-aider Lee Hand arrives on the scene, it becomes clear to him that the injured man is in a very bad way. As the casualty slips out of consciousness and blood gushes from a wound on his jaw, Lee decides to use the 40-minute wait for the helicopter to get him onto the RNLI lifeboat, ready to be extracted by the chopper. The language barrier between the RNLI boys and the ship’s crew hinders their progress somewhat but, two hours after his accident, the injured party is lifted onto the chopper for his ten-minute journey to hospital. The collaboration between the two rescue agencies has paid off, and coxswain Stuart Richardson reflects on a job well done. ‘It’s what we train for,” he says. “So it’s nice to see it all coming together.” Meanwhile, the UK’s busiest helicopter search and rescue team is called to the north Devon coast after a report comes in of two people trapped on a cliff. Winchman Sgt Paul ‘Haz’ Hunter explains that people in the area are regularly caught unawares and find themselves cut off by the tide. “People are perhaps unaware that the beautiful beach they arrived at in the afternoon could be underwater by evening,” he says. “The temptation then is to climb the cliffs – and that’s where the real danger comes in to play.”

Tuesday 16 November, 8:00pm on Five

The documentary series following the elite teams that patrol the waters around the UK’s south coast continues. In this instalment, an extreme-sports enthusiast comes a cropper on a Welsh cliff, the crew of a French trawler is caught overfishing, and RAF Rescue 169 embarks on a marathon mission over the Atlantic Ocean. For the elite emergency teams based on the south coast of England, enforcing order and combating disaster in the sea is a 24 hour-a-day job. The RAF, Royal Navy, RNLI and UK Border Agency work together to uphold law and order and protect stricken visitors, in a domain that stretches from Dover to Land’s End. The Rescue 169 crew from RAF Chivenor is scrambled to an accident on the Pembroke coast. A 16-year-old girl has suffered a fall while participating in the dangerous adventure sport of coasteering, in which participants climb around rocky coastlines without the use of wires or harnesses. The victim is experiencing numbness and tingling in her extremities, which indicates that she might have suffered a serious spinal injury. On winch duty is Sgt Ryan Thomas, an experienced paramedic who spent time saving casualties from the Afghanistan front line. Sgt Thomas’s nerve is put to the test yet again when he is forced to abseil down the cliff face using his winch in order to reach the stricken teenager’s remote location. Even on landing, the mission proves to be trickier than anticipated, with high winds and a vigorous down-draught from the chopper conspiring to almost blow the rescuer into the choppy seas. Meanwhile, in the English Channel, the mighty warship HMSSevern is out on a routine patrol. The Royal Navy’s Fishery Protection Squadron is responsible for fighting against the depletion of fish stocks. Lt Paul Caddy and his team have received intelligence that a French trawler is overfishing in the area, and the men’s job is to board the vessel and ascertain whether it is breaking the strict fishing quota laws. Lt Caddy boards the 45-tonne trawler, and quickly notices a discrepancy between the captain’s log and the actual numbers of fish on board the boat. The team now faces the time-consuming task of weighing all the catch and checking that it tallies with the weights recorded in the log book. If the maths does not add up, the trawlermen will be in serious trouble.

Tuesday 9 November, 8:00pm on Five

Continuing this week is the documentary series that charts the work of the elite teams charged with patrolling the waters around southern England. In this instalment, a lifeboat crew battles to save a stricken trawler in treacherous weather, an RAF search and rescue team races to save a holidaymaker injured on the rocks, and the rescue services are called into action when a weekend sailing trip ends in disaster. For the elite emergency teams based on the south coast of England, enforcing order and combating disaster in the sea is a 24 hour-a-day job. The RAF, Royal Navy, RNLI and UK Border Agency work together to uphold law and order and protect stricken visitors, in a domain that stretches from Dover to Land’s End. The unpredictable nature of the English Channel’s hostile waters means that no vessel is ever safe when violent winds hit the high seas. Gale-force winds are gathering in the Dover Strait when the 130-tonne fishing trawler Admiral Blake breaks down. With no propulsion drive, the trawler is unable to clear the shipping lane, leaving the captain with no option but to drop anchor and call for help. At the coastguard control centre in Dover, watch manager Frank O’Neill takes the SOS call from the Admiral. “We’ve got to be careful,” he says. “There are 303 ships in the strait at the moment. The potential for a hazardous incident is great.” To rescue the three-man crew and tow the boat to safety as quickly as possible, the control centre scrambles RNLI crews from both Dungeness and Dover. Coxswain Stuart Richardson of the Dover crew leads the operation. “The weather conditions aren’t very nice, to be honest!” he says. Also on board is new RNLI recruit Harry Hughes. “I’m pretty nervous,” he admits. “All the training I’ve done is now going to be put in practice.” The Dungeness crew reaches the stricken vessel first and starts a tow operation. However, adverse weather conditions mean that the more powerful Dover lifeboat must take over as soon as it arrives on the scene. As the Admiral is gradually dragged into harbour, the broken propeller shifts and water starts to pour into the vessel. What started out as a complex towing operation suddenly turns into a lifesaving rescue mission.

Tuesday 2 November, 8:00pm on Five

Continuing this week is the documentary series that charts the work of the elite teams charged with patrolling the waters around southern England. In this instalment, a distraught father places an emergency call after his teenage son falls down a cliff, a bomb squad attempts to destroy a huge wreck and a drunken woman is lifted to safety – and given a stern telling off. For the elite emergency teams based on the south coast of England, enforcing order and combating disaster in the sea is a 24 hour-a-day job. The RAF, Royal Navy, RNLI and UK Border Agency work together to uphold law and order and protect stricken visitors, in a domain that stretches from Dover to Land’s End. The search and rescue (SAR) helicopter crew Rescue 169 is scrambled to an emergency at Hartland Point in north Devon. It transpires that a teenage boy on holiday with his dad has fallen down a slippery cliff face. The teenager, Adam, has a compound fracture to his right arm and serious injuries to his leg. Dicko administers morphine to ease the boy’s pain while the crew attempts to stabilise him. The rescuers soon conclude that it is not going to be possible to walk a stretcher across the slippery rocks, meaning they must airlift the boy. Adam is winched up to the helicopter and then transported 30 miles to hospital where an emergency team operates on his arm. All being well, the lad should make a full recovery. In the English Channel, the Fisheries Protection Squadron is on patrol. With the right to board any suspicious vessel, the unit is on the lookout for fishing violators and dangerous trawlers. The officers have a trawler in their sights which has been spotted travelling in a restricted area. Lt Paul Caddy leads the investigation to deduce whether the boat has been fishing in the area. Armed with evidence that places the trawler in the restricted area at a speed conducive to fishing, Paul interviews the captain under legal caution. Defiant, the captain protests that he was merely escaping bad weather. If found guilty of the charges levelled against him, the skipper could face a fine of up to �50,000. Is he guilty or innocent?

Tuesday 15th December 8.00pm

Concluding this week is the documentary series that charts the work of the elite teams charged with patrolling the English Channel. In the final episode, a coastguard helicopter swoops in to assist a fallen fisherman, the Fisheries Protection Squadron tightens the net on a trawler suspected of overfishing and the RNLI is put on red alert when two children tumble into the sea.

At Portland airbase in Dorset, a call comes in from the control centre. A 61-year-old man has fallen onto rocks while fishing and sustained severe head injuries. Coastguard rescue officers are already on scene, but they require assistance from the air to get the casualty safely off the rocks.

Having clocked up over 2,000 rescues in 26 years, veteran winchman and paramedic ‘Buck’ Rogers knows that this case could prove tricky. “There are all sorts of things that can go wrong with a head injury,” he says. Thanks to the Augusta Westland 139 helicopter, the crew arrives within a few minutes. While chief pilot Mike Roughton manoeuvres the chopper over the rocks, Buck winches down and assesses the situation. Despite falling from a great height and landing on his head, 61-year-old Bob is still conscious and in relatively good spirits – though he is covered in blood.

With the tide rapidly rising, Buck wastes no time in taking his patient back up to the craft where he can dress his wound and stabilise him. Bob is then sped towards the local hospital in Dorset where he is expected to make a full recovery. The work of the Portland coastguard is done. “We’ll go back to base, wash the aircraft and get ready for the next one,” says Buck.

In Dover harbour, HMS Severn of the Royal Navy Fisheries Protection Squadron is launched for another investigation. This time, Lt Simon Yates and his team are investigating a trawler suspected of overfishing in UK waters – a serious infringement of EU law that could land the captain with a hefty fine. After boarding the vessel, Simon and his assistant, PO Bill Hodgson, inspect the log books and spot an inconsistency. It appears that the ship’s captain may have been cooking the books to make it look as though most of his huge haul of sole was landed in an area where regulations are less strict. “There’s something clearly not right – it doesn’t quite add up,” says Simon.

However, despite the officers’ suspicions, they can find no further evidence of fishing violations and are forced to give the trawler the all-clear. “Maybe it’s his lucky day, or maybe he genuinely did get a good day’s fishing – but they all seem to have a good day in that area!” says Bill of the fortunate captain.

At Warren Apron near Folkestone, it is midafternoon when the coastguard operations room receives an emergency call from Jon Miell, an offduty lifeboatman. Jon was out walking his dog when he heard desperate cries for help coming from the sea. An RNLI lifeboat is launched, with coxswain Stuart Richardson at the helm. “We have to get there as quickly and safely as possible,” says Stuart.

With the lifeboat en route, Jon phones the ops room with further details – and the situation is serious. Two youngsters ended up in the water when their parents lost control of their pushchair. The adults dived in to save the kids, only to run into difficulty themselves. All four have now been pulled from the sea, but the children are unconscious. As paramedics do their best to save the children’s lives, all the RNLI crewmen can do is watch.

As the casualties are sped to a specialist intensivecare unit in London, local police call upon the RNLI volunteers to find the buggy, which will be vital evidence in the investigation into what happened. Tragically, a two-year-old girl later died in hospital, while her eight-month-old brother survived. Police concluded that the incident was nothing more than a terrible accident. Jon Miell is deeply affected by the case. “The problem with the sea is that it can look quite benign at times,” he reflects. “What people don’t realise is that the most dangerous place is where the land meets the sea. It’s where they’re standing that the real danger lies.”

Tuesday 8th December 8.00pm

Continuing this week is the documentary series that charts the work of the elite teams charged with patrolling the English Channel. This week, a coastguard rescue crew comes to the aid of a fallen climber, a trawler boarding stirs up a serious investigation for the Fisheries Protection Squadron and two chemical tankers get too close for comfort.

At Portland in Dorset, the expert crew of the UK’s second largest search and rescue unit is on call 365 days a year. Winch operator Steve Larson is manning the communications room when a call comes in from the operations centre. “We’ve got a fallen climber down near Swanage,” says Steve. The only information available is that the casualty is male and has fallen some 60 feet down a cliff face. With serious injuries a real possibility, Steve and the crew must reach the scene as soon as possible – but this is not an issue, thanks to the Augusta Westland 139 helicopter.

Just 12 minutes after receiving the call, Steve and the crew have spotted the casualty. “This is a regular climbing spot,” explains pilot Mike Roughton. “Every year we get a few fallen climbers – some are quite serious, some terminal and others just light scratches and bumps.” Winchman Dougie Ayles lowers himself to the foot of the cliff and assesses the casualty’s condition. Owing to the possibility of back and internal injuries, he places the casualty onto a spinal board before winching him back up to the safety of the cabin. While Dougie stabilises and reassures his patient, Mike races to the nearest hospital.

In Dover harbour, HMS Severn of the Royal Navy Fisheries Protection Squadron is being prepared for patrol. Charged with monitoring all fishing activity in UK waters, the unit has the ability to perform spot checks on any fishing vessel at any time. Lt Cdr Steve Moorhouse has decided to deploy his team to inspect a 254-ton trawler in the English Channel. “What we’re looking to find out is how long she’s been at sea, where she’s fished and how much she’s got on board,” says Steve.

With Lt Simon Yates at the helm, the Severn’s rigid inflatable boat – or Rib – is launched and is soon alongside the trawler. Once on board, Simon and his team perform a thorough check of the captain’s log books and fishing diaries. Simon notices that the records do not seem to add up. The trawler is carrying a quantity of sole – a strictly controlled species in this area, but the captain has attributed the catch to an entirely different region, where fewer restrictions apply. “That’s quite a significant infringement,” says Simon.

Once the find has been reported back to the Severn, Simon digs a little deeper and finds that the captain’s logs contain all manner of inconsistencies, suggesting multiple violations of EU fishing laws. After checking the nets, quantifying the catch and seizing the trawler’s paperwork, Simon returns to the Severn. Steve Moorhouse decides to contact the agency HQ in London, from where a full investigation will be launched. “In previous cases we’ve had skippers fined £20,000 for an offence like that,” he says. “It’s not an insignificant matter.”

Back at the Dover coastguard control room, reports have come in of a broken-down chemical tanker stranded in the middle of the Channel. With the 1,500-ton ship drifting towards a treacherous sandbank, the emergency towing vessel the Anglian Monarch is dispatched. However, as the Monarch approaches, the crew is instructed to stand down. To avoid paying for a tow, the tanker’s sister ship is going to attempt a rescue. “I don’t think you should put a chemical tanker in the vicinity of another chemical tanker,” says watch manager Mike Painter. The ships are allowed to go about their business, but first officer Micky Baker is apprehensive and puts his crew on standby. “We might end up with two casualties instead of one,” he says.

Elsewhere this week, the RNLI investigates a mysterious object floating in the water and a search is launched after a man is reported missing

Tuesday 1st December 8.00pm

Continuing this week is the documentary series that charts the work of the elite teams charged with patrolling the English Channel. This week, the bomb squad comes to the rescue when a trawler nets a deadly catch, two missing climbers need assistance from the RAF and Kent marine police target a number of vessels under the Prevention of Terrorism act.

At Chivenor airfield in Devon, it has just gone midnight when a call comes in from the coastguard operations room. Two climbers have been reported missing at a group of rocky islands near Boscastle. The men have been out for 14 hours and may be stranded or injured, but there is no more information available. “They could be anywhere – there’s not much to go on,” says winch operator Sgt Alex Brown.

Within half an hour, Alex and the rescue team have arrived in the vicinity and spotted the men, thanks to the Sea King’s on-board thermal-imaging cameras. The climbers are trapped on a narrow ledge on Long Island – a rocky outcrop situated 100 feet from the mainland. With nowhere to land, pilot Sqn Ldr Olly Padbury must take the craft as near as possible while winchman Sgt Andy Dixon makes the treacherous 180ft descent to the rock face. After one failed attempt that sees him plunged into the icy water, Andy manages to scramble onto the island and immediately fits the men with harnesses for their ascent back to the chopper.

Once back on dry land and in the safe hands of the paramedics, the climbers reflect on the courageous efforts of their rescuers. “They performed exceptionally well and we’re really glad they came to help us,” says one. After another successful mission, Olly and the crew return to base. “We just want to get back now in case we get another shout,” he says. “Job well done, chaps.”

Twenty miles west of Dover at Dungeness, a local fishing boat has landed a dangerous relic from World War II. Amongst its regular haul of fish, the Julie Jean has picked up what looks like a rusty aircraft bomb. On the advice of the professionals, the boat’s captain keeps the device wet in a bucket of water and awaits the Royal Navy bomb-disposal unit based in Portsmouth.

Upon receiving the call, PO Dave Moor and the crew load up the van with plastic explosives, detonators and robot mine sweepers and head to Dungeness. Once on the scene, Dave carefully examines the device and identifies it as a naval projectile from World War II containing 2.2lbs of explosives. The only way to deal with such a bomb is with a controlled explosion, so Dave and the team lower the device into the sea, assemble the detonator, attach the trigger and clear the area. In the event, the device is dispatched with nothing more dramatic than a small bang and a splash. But with 30 years of experience, Dave knows that there are still plenty more old bombs to be found and destroyed. “There are thousands of them out there, I’d say,” he reflects.

The Kent marine police force is a crack team of 15 full- and part-time officers who patrol the Thames estuary and the Dover strait. Their latest mission, code-named Operation Badge, is to gather intelligence and carry out surprise boardings under the Prevention of Terrorism act. Spearheading the team’s mission is the Princess Alexandra III, a £2million modified lifeboat equipped with all the latest in maritime technology.

Inspector Gary Jones leads the unit to a large Dutch cargo ship with a multinational crew. “We’ll be boarding the vessel with a view to exercising counter-terrorist examination powers,” he explains. After a thorough check of all the crew members’ passports and histories, the ship is given the allclear and the officers can return to base. “It’s been a fairly typical day,” says Gary. “I think it sends an important message to the captain that we’re here to support him, and also to the crew that the UK won’t tolerate any illegal activity.”

Elsewhere this week, an RAF crew makes a desperate bid to rescue a fallen climber with serious head injuries, and a coastguard tug comes to the aid of a stricken tanker.

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