A life raft spotting drifting off the coast has sparked a rescue operation in west Cornwall.

A member of the public walking the coast path near Lamorna spotted the life raft in the sea and rang 999, concerned that someone could be in trouble.

The all-weather Penlee lifeboat was launched from Newlyn at 2.15pm yesterday, after being sent to search the area by Falmouth Coastguard Operations Centres.

Despite the stormy conditions and rough sea, the volunteer crew of the Ivan Ellen - made up of coxswain Patch Harvey, mechanic Tony Rendle, Marcel Le Bretton, Jack Shannon, Andrew Stevens, Amy Smith and Will Treneer - soon found the 24-man life raft floating 2.5 nautical miles from Newlyn, with no one onboard.

Falmouth Packet:

The life raft secured onto the lifeboat. Photo: Penlee Lifeboat

A spokesperson for Penlee Lifeboat said: “It was full of water which made recovery quite difficult. After several attempts the crew managed to get the life raft alongside and it was conveyed back to Newlyn.”

Back on shore, the life raft was identified as coming from HMS Mersey, a patrol vessel that monitors the UK waters and up to 200 miles into the Atlantic, making sure that fishing boats and trawlers stick to internationally-agreed fish quotas.

The crew had previously reported losing a life raft, to the Falmouth Coastguard Operations Centre.

“The life raft will be collected by the Royal Navy early next week,” added the lifeboat spokesperson.

Falmouth Packet:

The life raft was taken back to Newlyn. Photo: Penlee Lifeboat