Flt Lt Wales, HRH Prince William
Archive image of the Swanland
His helicopter was scrambled in the pitch dark after the cargo vessel’s hull was cracked by 50ft waves in the Irish Sea.
Survivor: A man aboard a life raft waves at the helicopter piloted by the Prince as they attempted to rescue him and his colleagues after the ship sank
Buffeted by 70mph winds, William’s Sea King hovered over one of the liferafts before winching the terrified men to safety.
Five other crew members were still missing last night. The body of a sixth was recovered.
The MoD said yesterday: “The Duke of Cambridge was a co-pilot on one of the aircraft involved. He is now back at base.”
Prince William’s RAF search and rescue helicopter was scrambled in the early hours yesterday after the 267ft Swanland sank with its cargo of 3,000 tons of limestone after being hit by a massive wave off the North Wales coast.
Prince William co-piloted a rescue helicopter as they searched for the crew from the cargo ship Swanland
He was co-piloting the Sea King in 50mph winds as the crew from his base, RAF Valley in Anglesey, spotted the second officer and a crewmate in the sea and winched them to safety.
The body of one of the sailors’ crewmates was later discovered, but despite scouring 300 square miles of the Irish Sea, rescuers found no trace of the remaining five members of the Russian crew before the search was called off for the night.
Coastguards said they would reassess the situation this morning.
The Swanland, which is registered in the Cook Islands but owned by a firm based in Grimsby, was carrying limestone quarried in North Wales from Raynes Jetty to Cowes on the Isle of Wight when it came to grief.
When the mayday call was made at 2am yesterday, it quickly became clear that the bulk carrier was doomed after being hit by an enormous wave that cracked its hull around 20 miles off the Lleyn peninsula.