A LARGE scale search was launched after a 17ft speedboat started to take on water.

The RAF Sea King helicopter, a coastguard team, lifeboat and two other vessels joined in the frantic hunt after one of the speedboat’s crew made a 999 call from a mobile phone.

The caller, one of three men on the speedboat, told Thames Coastguard he was unsure of their location after it launched from Bradwell Marina.

The speedboat also did not have a VHF radio.

The West Mersea inshore lifeboat was among the crews scrambled to search for the speedboat on Thursday afternoon.

It tracked down the speedboat within half an hour.

The speedboat was close to the shore at St Peter’s Flats, near Bradwell marshes.

Archie Turnbull, Thames Coastguard station manager, said: “Because of the description of what the guy could see from the boat, such was the wind turbines on the land, we were able to find the pretty quickly.”

All the crew were unharmed and were brought ashore at Bradwell marina.

There they were met by the South Woodham coastguard rescue team who helped with the recovery of the boat.

Mr Turnbull advised boats should always have a VHF radio on board.

He said: “If you have a VHF radio everybody can hear what’s going on and help but if you’re on a mobile , only one person can hear it.”