THREE drunken sailors have been rescued from the Bristol channel after they found themselves stranded following a night out in Barry.

Five RNLI rescue crews were despatched to search the Bristol channel after the trio – Dutch, Russian, and Philippine nationals - were reported missing at 7am.

The sailors were deemed missing on Thursday, March 21 after they had failed to return to Minehead on Wednesday night (March 20).

They had left a cargo ship moored two miles off Minehead on a RIB.

The three men had attempted to make their way back from Barry to Minehead on the RIB. but got lost in foggy conditions in the channel.

Minehead RNLI’s Atlantic class lifeboat and Barry Dock’s Trent all-weather lifeboat were launched just after 7am to assist in the search.

As the search continued two lifeboats from Penarth RNLI, the Atlantic 85 and D-class lifeboat, along with Ilfracombe RNLI’s Shannon class lifeboat also launched to assist at around 8am.

All five lifeboats lifeboats carried out detailed searches along their coastlines.

The sailors were found safe, but very cold on Flat Holm Island at around 8:30am by Penarth RNLI volunteers.

After being assessed by the RNLI volunteers the Coastguard 187 helicopter landed on the island to further assess the casualties, but it was decided they were well enough to return to land by lifeboat.

Barry Coastguard was also involved in the search.

A spokesman said: “At 8am our team were paged - a multi-agency callout for three missing sailors.

“They had arrived at Cold Knap after leaving their cargo ship at Minehead. After a short stay, they decided to make their way back to Minehead.

“Due to the fog they arrived at Flat Holm and took shelter. Their small boat was located on the island by RNLI crews and the three men soon located. They were wet but safe and well.

“They returned to Barry Dock and the relevant authorities took over and dealt with them. The Barry Dock lifeboat, Penarth lifeboat, Rescue 187 and several crews on the English coastline were involved and all teams and crews returned to stations late morning.”

South Wales Police officers assisted in the operation and were satisfied no laws had been broken.