Royal Navy warship and lifeboats searching for man in sea off Kent coast

By Michael Drummond, PA South East Correspondent

A Royal Navy warship has been dispatched to help in an urgent search for a man in the sea off the Kent coast.

Lifeboats and the coastguard helicopter are scouring the sea near Margate Harbour after reports of a man overboard, HM Coastguard said.

Sixty-gun frigate HMS Winchester is believed to have responded to a relay call and is in the area, according to ship tracking data.

(PA Graphics)

The urgent search operation comes as communities across the UK brace for the arrival of Storm Dennis on Sunday – just one week after Storm Ciara battered the nation.

A distress call was received by the coastguard at 5.41am this morning and an extensive search of the area commenced.

A coastguard spokesman said: “RNLI lifeboats from Ramsgate and Margate have been sent, along with the search and rescue helicopter from Lydd.

“A police RHIB is also on scene. HM Coastguard broadcast a relay to vessels in the area, and a Royal Navy vessel is assisting.”

Margate coastguard has also carried out a search of the shoreline.

The distress call is believed to have come from B Gas Margrethe, a 99-metre Maltese tanker that had been anchored off the coast of Margate.