Video: Prince William saves the day

  1. Transcript of: Prince William saves the day

    LESTER HOLT, anchor: Also taking to the skies today, Lieutenant William Wales , better known to you and me as Prince William . He's not just second in line to the British throne , he's also an officer with the British Royal Air Force , and today he was a man on a mission , a life saving mission. We get the story tonight from NBC 's Annabel Roberts .

    ANNABEL ROBERTS reporting: Early this morning in the cold waters of the Irish Sea , a man waved frantically from a life raft. An RFC seeking helicopter had been sent to rescue him. The co-pilot, the future king of England himself, Prince William . The eight-man crew of the cargo ship Swanland had been sailing along the west coast of Britain in atrocious weather.

    Mr. RAY CARSON (Her Majesty's Coast Guard): She was hit by what he described as an enormous wave. She rolled, broke her back and obviously was such a

    catastrophic......it sank very quickly.

    ROBERTS: First one survivor and then a second were plucked from the life raft. One member of the crew was found dead, five are still missing. On board the helicopter, the survivors found themselves beside the heir to the British throne , Prince William , who flew them to safety. In April , the queen visited the base in Wales where William is spending three years as a Royal Air Force search and rescue pilot. His brother, Prince Harry , has also faced danger. While serving in Afghanistan , he carried out patrols in hostile areas and says he's keen to return.

    Mr. ROBERT JOBSON (NBC Royal Contributor): Prince William has always said that when he became a servicemen, he wanted to have a proper job. There's no way he could be posted like his brother Prince Harry to the front line in Afghanistan because of his role as the future king, but he is a serviceman. He's not going to shirk his responsibilities.

    ROBERTS: William and his new bride Kate Middleton live a relatively normal life in rural north Wales , not from far from William 's base. But early next year the newlyweds will be separated when William is deployed to the remote Falkland Islands in the South Atlantic , Kate 's first taste of the typical life of a military wife. This rescue was the prince's most harrowing mission to date, but no doubt there will be more like this as the future king spreads his wings. Annabel Roberts, NBC News, London.

msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 11/27/2011 7:14:13 PM ET 2011-11-28T00:14:13

Prince William joined a frantic rescue mission Sunday after a cargo ship sank in the Irish Sea, leaving several crew members missing.

The second in line to the British throne, who is a Royal Air Force helicopter pilot and known professionally as Flight Lt. William Wales, was aboard an aircraft which rescued two crew members early on Sunday, after their vessel suffered a cracked hull in gale-force winds off the coast of north Wales.

Britain's ministry of defense said William had been co-pilot of the helicopter, which carried two people back to his base RAF Valley, on the Welsh island of Anglesey.

Authorities said five people remained missing after the 265-foot Swanland cargo ship, which had eight people on board, sent a mayday call at around 2 a.m. local time (9 p.m. ET).

'Challenging' conditions
Holyhead Coastguard said one body had been recovered from the sea, but that the fate of the other crew members was not yet known.

"We know that at least some of them are wearing immersion suits and have strobe lighting with them, however sea conditions are challenging at best," said Jim Green, a coastguard spokesman.

The Swanland was reportedly carrying 3,000 tons of limestone. Its crew members were believed to be Russian.

Video: Faraway duty calls for Prince William (on this page)

Rescue helicopters from RAF Valley and from Dublin coastguard base in Ireland were initially sent to the scene, about 20 miles  northwest of the Llyn peninsula in north Wales.

Helicopters from RAF Chivenor, in southwest England, and the Irish Coastguard are continuing to search for the missing crew, along with boats from the Royal National Lifeboat Institution.

"Two RNLI lifeboats, along with four search and rescue helicopters and two other commercial boats, are searching for the remaining six crew," the RNLI said in a statement.

Gale force winds battered the Irish Sea on Sunday and the coastguard said it is believed the poor condition could have caused the incident.

The Associated Press and msnbc.com staff contributed to this report.

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