Three British sailors were forced to abandon their yacht after it hit a whale around 350 miles north east of the Azores and began sinking

The crew of the British-flagged yacht have been rescued off the Azores after the vessel hit a whale and began sinking.

Details of the incident, which happened on Monday (22 May), have been released by the Portuguese Navy, which co-ordinated the operation.

The three British sailors were making passage around 356-miles off the northeast of Terceira Island, Azores, when the yacht – Destiny of Scarborough – collided with the whale.

The Hallberg-Rassy 48 began taking on water, and the yacht’s skipper issued a May Day.

In a statement, the Portuguese Navy said it sent a navy corvette and two planes to the scene – the C-295 aircraft of the Lajes Base and a P3-C of the Beja Base.

It also asked for assistance from any ships in the area.

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The crew of the merchant ship, Justine responded, picking up the three sailors at around 3.13pm local time.

They are now on their way to the northern Spanish port city of Aviles.

The Portuguese Navy said the men “did not need medical care” and had suffered no injuries.