The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has sent its C-130 Hercules aircraft to join the US-led team in the search for four British sailors who went missing after their yacht, Cheeki Rafiki, capsized in the mid-Atlantic Ocean.
The C-130 Hercules was deployed from Royal Air Force (RAF)Brize Norton on 21 May, and will first head for Lajes, Portugal, where it will refuel.
The aircraft, which has no specialist search equipment installed, will then resume its flight to the Atlantic Ocean while scanning a portion of the search area, according to the MoD.
During the search period, the military aircraft will be based at Newfoundland and will assist two US and two Canadian aircraft, as well as several volunteer ships in the area.
The aircraft’s first complete scan of the search area is likely to be conducted today.
Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said: "The RAF’s contribution to the search operation for the four missing British sailors will provide additional capability and resilience to the resumed search led by US and Canadian forces."
"We all hope that the extensive resources being provided by our allies and the further support from the UK can help locate the missing yachtsmen as soon as possible."
Contact with the four sailors was lost in the early hours of 16 May, when they were diverting to the Azores on their return to the UK from Antigua Sailing Week in the Caribbean.
The sailors were reportedly delivering the 40ft performance cruiser yacht after participating in the world’s largest regatta.
The US Coast Guard has already conducted search operations, but could not find anyone. The initial search operation was abandoned after just 53 hours but was later resumed following pressure from the British Government.
Image: Lockheed C-130K Hercules C3 of the RAF (identifier 307) taxiing for take-off. Photo: courtesy of Adrian Pingstone.