Coastguard teams and the Gosport Independent Lifeboat took part in a major search of the eastern Solent after equipment was found floating in the sea

A major multi-agency search of the eastern Solent took place on 10 December 2016 after two illuminated torches were discovered floating in the sea.

The UK Coastguard is now appealing for help in tracing the owners of the items, which were found between Gosport and Cowes.

The alarm was raised just after 6.30am after the equipment, believed to belong to kayakers, was spotted south of Fort Gilkicker by a member of staff on one of the Isle of Wight car ferries.

Initially the Gosport & Fareham Inshore Rescue Service (GAFIRS) was launched and carried out a search of the area, just north of Ryde on the Isle of Wight.

Both torches were found by the crew.

Commenting on the shout, the GAFIRS coxswain, Brian Pack, said: “Finding the two torches was a worry. We carried out an extensive search of the area and after an hour were stood down by the Coastguard and returned to base.”

“However, while we were closing down the station a member of the public arrived having found some personal effects and a flashing lifebuoy beacon on the beach just along from our station on Stokes Bay,” he said.

Following this discovery, the Coastguard tasked GAFIRS to carry out a second shoreline search from Fort Gilkicker to Browndown, edging south towards the central Solent.

Lifeboats from Cowes, Bembridge, Portsmouth and Hamble were also mobilised, as was the Coastguard Rescue Helicopter, based at Lee-on-the-Solent.

Five Coastguard rescue teams – including Hill Head and Portsmouth – as well as units on the Isle of Wight, assisted with the search on the shore, for the potentially missing persons in the water or a kayaker.

While searching, GAFIRS voluntary lifeboat crew found more personal items floating in the water.

After nearly eight hours, and The Solent now saturated with searches from a number of assets, GAFIRS was stood down by the Coastguard at 2pm.

“We carried out a very thorough search coordinated by the Coastguard and while we found the items early on, nothing else was spotted,” said the GAFIRS coxswain Pack.

“I would strongly urge anyone with any information about the torches to contact the Coastguard as a matter of urgency,” he stressed.

In a statement, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency said: “The UK Coastguard is appealing for information after some equipment, possibly used by kayakers, was found at sea and along the shore over night and this morning.”

“Various items including a glove, a trainer, a man over board strobe light and torches have been found between Gosport and Cowes.”

“A number of kayakers were reported as out fishing last night. (9 December 2016)”

Anyone with information about the kayakers or the equipment is requested to call the UK Coastguard on 023 92 552100.