A TEAM of scuba divers launched a full scale rescue mission in Hampshire – to recover a sunken model warship from a New Forest pond.

The 20-minute operation involved two members of the Calshot Sub Aqua Club, who came to the aid of retired Royal Navy Reserve Lieutenant Commander David McNair- Taylor.

The stricken vessel was a model replica of an American Second World War destroyer, USS McNair, which David spent seven months and £700 building before it sunk in choppy waters at Setley Pond.

Model boat maker David, captain of the Solent Radio Controlled Model Boat Club, said the boat got into difficulty after being hit by a sudden gust of wind on its maiden voyage.

David, a retired petrol company area sales manager, said: “Setley Pond is the home water of Solent Radio Controlled Model Boat Club and I’d taken my model of the USS McNair, my namesake, there for its maiden voyage.

“It’s always a worrying time when your model first goes into the water and after a few minutes I realised it needed a bit more ballast.

“I turned it around with the intention of bringing it back to shore when a gust of wind hit it and she went on her side.

“In a matter of minutes she slipped beneath the surface and was gone.

“I was devastated.”

He added: “I checked out the nearest sub aqua club and came up with BSAC‘s Calshot Divers.

“I gave them a call and they came down and had a look at the task.

“We gained permission from the Forestry Commission and two divers then went in and recovered my model.

“The model was in remarkably good condition despite the trauma it had been through. I only lost a gun turret and a depth charge rail but the paintwork was badly blistered and I had to completely remove all the fittings, repaint and assemble her again.

“I have added ballast and she is now sailing like a dream, no problem at all.”

Diving officer for Calshot Divers, Steve Pooley, a freelance engineer, who lives in Dibden Purlieu, said: “The model had gone down in around 10ft of water but the problem was the lack of visibility.

It was absolutely zero so everything had to be done by feel.

“It was a satisfying dive, not too challenging, but rewarding in that we were able to help David recover his valuable and impressive model.”