A MAN hanging on to an upturned dinghy was spotted by a Red Funnel captain — who launched a rescue mission.

Vehicle ferry Red Eagle assisted in the rescue operation this morning (Aug 21) during its 6am Southampton to East Cowes sailing.

Just five minutes after departing Southampton, Capt Craig Young spotted an upturned dinghy in the water off Hythe, near Dock Head.

He looked through binoculars and spotted a man in the water, holding on to the side of the dinghy.

Capt Young immediately instructed his team to deploy Red Eagle’s rescue boat, which was launched by deck mate Paul Gowland and manned by Elizabeth Brindle and Oliver Russel.

Associated British Ports and the Coastguard were also alerted.

Southampton Patrol attended the incident and was able to recover the man from the water, assisted by Red Funnel’s crew on the rescue boat, and brought him to shore where local medics attended. He was taken to hospital by ambulance.

Red Eagle’s rescue boat towed the stranded dinghy to Hythe Marina before returning to the ferry to recommence the 6am sailing.

Fran Collins, chief executive of Red Funnel, said: “I am extremely proud of Red Eagle’s team for their quick thinking and efforts in this morning’s rescue operation.

"The crew were on their second to last sailing of their night shift, demonstrating true commitment and heroism.

"Our teams are always happy to help in incidents such as this and be another set of eyes to spot anyone that may be in trouble out on the water.

“We have experienced some delays to our service as a result, however, our teams are working hard to minimise these as much as possible, with the return Red Eagle sailing from East Cowes to Southampton berthing only five minutes past the scheduled arrival time.

"We had approximately 50 passengers on board this morning’s 6am from Southampton, and we thank everyone for their understanding and patience.

“We also send our wellwishes to the man recovered and are keeping him and his family in our thoughts.”

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