Australian frigate returns to port with rescued yachtsman

2018 Golden Globe Race competitor, Gregor McGuckin, is reunited with partner Barbara O'Kelly onboard HMAS Ballarat, at Fleet Base East, Western Australia. Photo: Royal Australian Navy

Royal Australian Navy frigate HMAS Ballarat has returned to port with a rescued solo round-the-world yachtsman.

Ballarat’s MH-60R ‘Romeo’ Seahawk helicopter recovered Irish national, Gregor McGuckin, from a French scientific research station on Amsterdam Island after he was transported there by French fishing vessel Osiris.

The second sailor, Indian Navy Commander Abhilash Tomy, who suffered a back injury, is being picked up by Indian Navy frigate INS Satpura for return to India.

Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Mike Noonan, RAN, praised the quick response of Ballarat’s Ship’s Company.

“With Ballarat about to deploy to the Middle East, the crew had been on their first day of pre-deployment leave,” Vice Admiral Noonan said.

“As sailors, when called upon to assist someone in distress at sea, we never hesitate. We are very pleased that both yachtsmen are now safe.”

McGuckin accepted Australia’s offer to transfer him to Western Australia where he was met by family and friends who had flown at short notice to Perth.

The sailors were taking part in the Golden Globe solo round-the-world yacht race when they were de-masted by mountainous seas in the southern Indian Ocean, around 1,900 nautical miles south-west of Perth.

Ballarat’s ship’s company will now resume their pre-deployment leave to ensure all personnel are well rested prior to their Middle East Region deployment.

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