A ROYAL Navy ship rescued two anglers after their boat broke down off Portland and started drifting near shipping lanes.

As Portland Coastguard was co-ordinating the search for the missing fishermen from the Purbeck Isle, they also launched a rescue operation for another fishing boat which called for help on Saturday.

The 23ft Gemma T, which has a berth at Weymouth Marina, suffered engine failure and was drifting 18 miles off Portland.

It was towed into Weymouth by a naval vessel in a five-hour operation.

A spokesman for Portland Coastguard said a call was sent to all vessels in the area to help when the crew of Gemma T called for assistance.

He said: “Offshore patrol vessel HMS Tyne responded and sent a boat to help.

“The mechanics looked at it and said it needed to go back to harbour for repair.”

He added: “HMS Tyne and her crew went far beyond any reasonable request for assistance in this incident and Portland Coastguard wish to acknowledge the generous actions of the Royal Navy.”

Gemma T’s crew, Howard Pitt, 53, and Martin Longman, 48, were taken on board HMS Tyne while their boat was towed in.

Lieutenant James Thompson of HMS Tyne said it had been taking part in routine fishery protection duties when they heard the emergency call.

Lieutenant Thompson added that the crew had been happy to help. He said: “It was nice to help with the other side of fishery protection.”

LieutOllie Loughran added: “The guys were drifting close to a busy shipping lane and anytime we hear the emergency call we like to aid where possible.”

Mr Pitt and Mr Longman said they were very grateful to both the coastguards and the Royal Navy for their help.

Mr Pitt, from Meare, Somerset, said: “They did a great job. They were very professional.”

Mr Longman, from Bristol, said they had been very well looked after aboard the ship and were given a meal and a tour of the vessel.