A diver who breached lockdown rules and went missing during a sea trip owes his life to an eagle-eyed sailor from a Royal Navy warship who spotted him drifting in the water.

As reported, the diver got into trouble after going on a leisure dive with a friend off Lyme Regis on Saturday. He drifted for two hours in which time he had floated three miles from his last reported location.

He sparked a major search operation involving coastguards, lifeboats and two rescue helicopters.

Warship HMS Tyne, which was on a routine maritime security patrol, was among the vessels which responded to a mayday call about the missing diver.

Tyne arrived in the area in Lyme Bay – around four miles off the coast of Seatown – within 45 minutes of the alarm being raised and the crew started a visual search.

After 20 minutes, Sub Lieutenant Andrew Boyle, a young officer under training on Tyne, spotted the diver.

Tyne then radioed the location through to the Exmouth lifeboat, who was in the best location to recover him.

Lieutenant Nick Ward, the Executive Officer of HMS Tyne, said: “This incident is a great example of how versatile the vessels of the Offshore Patrol Squadron are.

“The ship’s company quickly adapted to a changing situation and worked to support the Coastguard, the RNLI and local mariners in carrying out the search.

“We are always concerned for the safety of our fellow mariners at sea, thankfully SLt Boyle spotted the diver and we were able to play a key part in recovering him quickly.”

An RNLI statement said: “[The diver] had been diving without a buddy and adrift for two hours in which time he floated three miles from his last reported location. He had surfaced safely but lost sight of the dive vessel after his line became detached. He did not require medical attention.”

Exmouth RNLI Deputy Coxswain, Roger Jackson, said: “The diver was very fortunate to have been located safe and well so quickly and, although there was an easterly swell, visibility was good and there were a number of vessels in the locality who came to help in the search.

“We are grateful for the invaluable assistance of our RNLI colleagues from Lyme Regis, the crew of HMS Tyne, Lyme Regis Coastguard Rescue Team, the HM Coastguard helicopter and other vessels in the area that came together in a coordinated effort that led to this successful rescue. The diver was very lucky indeed and although I’m very pleased the outcome was good, I would urge everyone to please heed the latest government coronavirus instructions.”

Having successfully found the diver, Tyne has now returned to conducting maritime security operations.