A UK diving centre has stressed the importance of marine distress signals after they played a vital part in a coastal rescue.

A group of ten divers and two crew was rescued when the Aquanaut, a 40ft. Nelson boat, sank off the coast of Salcombe, Devon, in July. All were safe and well and needed no medical help.

Noeleen Allen, manager of Aquanauts DiveCentre, Plymouth, which owns the boat, says, “It was the flares that got us spotted. They worked perfectly. Without those, who knows how long we would have been in the water. Our Mayday call was not heard as we were in a black spot.”

Chemring Marine product manager, Keith Bradford, says, “This is a perfect example of why marine distress signals are a crucial element of safety equipment for commercial and leisure craft and why they need to be kept up-to-date.”

The divers launched a distress signal when Aquanaut took on water after being hit by a stern wave. The flare alerted the crew of a passing yacht, Dutch Angel, who radioed for assistance, secured the liferaft and helped the casualties out of the water.

Brixham Coastguard sent a helicopter and both the Hope Cove Coastguard and the Salcombe RNLI lifeboats to the scene.

Mark Satchell, of Brixham Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre, said having the correct safety gear, including flares and liferafts, almost certainly aided the prompt and safe recovery of the casualties.

Skipper Douglas Allen said it was unlikely the wave was purely to blame and suspected a problem with a rudder gland or exhaust, causing the boat to quickly take on water below decks.