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Two Volunteer lifeboat crews respond to ‘Mayday’ Emergency

Lifeboats News Release

Newhaven and Eastbourne lifeboats responded yesterday afternoon to an emergency ‘Mayday’ distress call from a twin engine motor cruiser when a suspected fire was discovered on board.

The Eastbourne based cruiser was motoring off Cuckmere Haven when the skipper became aware of what appeared to be smoke coming from the engine compartment of his vessel. Mindful of a recent incident off Eastbourne when a similar vessel caught fire and sunk, the skipper shut down his engines and put out a Mayday distress call. The rescue co-ordination centre at Dover Coastguard took control of the situation and requested the immediate launch of Newhaven RNLI’s Seven class lifeboat which was soon on scene. A lifeboat crewman was put aboard the stricken vessel and was able to establish that there was no fire risk but that one engine had become severely overheated and was letting off thick clouds of steam.


Following discussions between Eastbourne and Newhaven lifeboats and Dover Coastguard it was decided that it was safe for the cruiser to make its own way back to Eastbourne using its remaining engine. Newhaven lifeboat escorted the cruiser to Beachy Head where Eastbourne lifeboat took over the precautionary escort back to Sovereign Harbour.             

Key facts about the RNLI

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution is the charity that saves lives at sea. Our volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service in the United Kingdom and Ireland from 238 lifeboat stations, including four along the River Thames and inland lifeboat stations at Loch Ness, Lough Derg, Enniskillen, Carrybridge and Lough Ree. Additionally the RNLI has more than 1,000 lifeguards on over 240 beaches around the UK and operates a specialist flood rescue team, which can respond anywhere across the UK and Ireland when inland flooding puts lives at risk.

The RNLI relies on public donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. As a charity it is separate from, but works alongside, government-controlled and funded coastguard services. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824 our lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved at least 140,000 lives. Volunteers make up 95% of the charity, including 4,600 volunteer lifeboat crew members and 3,000 volunteer shore crew. Additionally, tens of thousands of other dedicated volunteers raise funds and awareness, give safety advice, and help in our museums, shops and offices.

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Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries

Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 or by email.


The RNLI is a charity registered in England and Wales (209603) and Scotland (SC037736). Charity number 20003326 in the Republic of Ireland