HMS Dragon
The HMS Dragon used two large boats to collect the Challenger's crew Wikimedia Commons

Swift action by the HMS Dragon naval ship helped save the lives of 14 sailors who were left stranded after their yacht was destroyed by a "rogue wave".

HMS Dragon, a type-45 Destroyer based in Portsmouth, darted 500m (805km) off its routine course to launch a rescue mission to help the Clyde Challenger crew, who had been shipwrecked for two days.

The destroyer reached a top speed of 30 knots (35mph) to reach them at 2.30pm GMT on Saturday (11 February).

A type-45 Destroyer is an advanced class ship primarily built for anti-aircraft purposes.

The Challenger had set course for the UK after more than four months at sea when they were hit by the unexpected wave five days into their return voyage. The wave destroyed key components of the yacht 610m (982km) south-west of Land's End.

"We lost our mast and the rigging, that was the problem," Captain Roy Graham admitted, speaking to the Press Association.

"We got hit with a rogue wave coming in the opposite direction. It hit us and knocked us over and dragged the crosstrees into the water, which dragged the mast into the water and snapped it at deck level."

Graham had initially conceded defeat in hopes of a rescue, but added that his optimism grew once they knew the Dragon was en route to their location.

HMS Dragon
The Royal Navy destroyer HMS Dragon (pictured top) tracks a Russian warship in 2014. Royal Navy

"There were maybe a few doubts in my mind but when I knew HMS Dragon was coming for us, I knew it was going to be a positive outcome.

"We are really pleased the Navy took up the challenge to come and rescue us."

Challenger's crew, composed of 13 Britons and one American, used two large launches from HMS Dragon, capable of transporting six passengers each, to get safety and receive treatment for minor injuries, as well as being given hot food.

Petty Officer Max Grosse, the Chief Bosun's Mate onboard the destroyer expressed his relief to find all crew members alive and well despite "challenging" circumstances.

"When we arrived on scene it was clear the yacht had lost its mast and looked in a pretty desperate state after nearly 48 hours drifting in the challenging conditions.

"Despite racing through the night we only had three hours of daylight remaining in which to safely remove the crew."

Unfortunately, the Clyde Challenger could not be saved.