The two jet skiers were attempting a passage from Newhaven to the Sovereign Light Tower when one of the craft suffered engine failure. The initial intention was for the still operational craft to tow the disabled one back to Newhaven but it quickly became evident that this operation was rapidly using up too much fuel to get back to safe waters. With no operational VHF radio, contact was made by mobile telephone to Dover Coastguard who requested the launch of the lifeboat. Due to the distance offshore the ALB was tasked rather than the inshore lifeboat which is generally intended for rapid response closer inshore. Having received precise details of the exact location, and guided by a flare fired by the skiers, the ALB was quickly on scene. The stricken craft was taken under tow back to Sovereign Harbour while the other craft followed under its own power.
Later Coxswain Mark Sawyer remarked that it was unfortunate that these two experienced and generally well equipped individuals lacked a vital piece of kit, a working VHF radio, and that they were lucky that their mobile phone signal was strong enough to make the emergency call.