A helicopter, five coastguard boats and others from the Isle of Wight were all would-be rescuers in a major air and sea search of The Solent at the weekend

A helicopter, five coastguard rescue boats and others from the Isle of Wight were all involved in a major air and sea search and rescue alert at the weekend.

Two illuminated torches were spotted floating south of Gilkicker by a member of staff on one of the Isle of Wight ferries in the Solent.

They were found by the Gosport and Fareham Inshore Rescue Service (GAFIRS), who had been paged by the coastguard prompting the massive missing persons operation.

A helicopter, five coastguard rescue boats and others from the Isle of Wight were all involved in the search

A helicopter, five coastguard rescue boats and others from the Isle of Wight were all involved

Gosport & Fareham Inshore Rescue Service (GAFIRS) found one torch north of Ryde on the Isle of Wight, and soon discovered the second floating in a busy shipping lane.

“Finding the two torches was a worry,” said GAFIRS coxswain Brian Pack. “We carried out an extensive search of the area and after an hour were stood down by the coastguard and returned to base.

“However, while we were closing down the station, a member of the public arrived having found some personal effects and a flashing lifebuoy beacon on the beach just along from our station on Stokes Bay,” he said.

Following this discovery, GAFIRS went back out to carry out a second shoreline search from Gilkicker to Browndown, edging south towards the central Solent. Lifeboats from Cowes, Bembridge, Portsmouth and Hamble were also mobilised, as was the Coastguard rescue helicopter from Lee-on-the-Solent.

After even more personal items were found in the water, the search continued for nearly eight hours with a fleet of rescue services swamping The Solent. They were all stood down at 2pm.

“We carried out a thorough search, coordinated by the Coastguard. While we found the items early on, nothing else was spotted,” said Mr Pack.

“I’d strongly urge anyone with any information about these torches to contact the Coastguard as a matter of urgency,” he said.