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RNLI Portsmouth diverted from exercise to assist distressed vessel

Lifeboats News Release

RNLI Portsmouth Lifeboat Norma T diverted from exercise to assist distressed vessel in Langstone Harbour.

After hearing Solent coastguard responding to a distressed vessel in Langstone harbour, Portsmouth RNLI Lifeboat Norma T raced back towards the harbour to hear the rest of the message, abandoning scheduled training to assist. (Wednesday 15th June 2016 - 8pm)

Once inside the harbour the Lifeboat used Direction Finding VHF radio equipment (DF) to locate the distressed vessel on the East side of Langstone Harbour, with two of the five men waist deep in water holding their 14ft boat in the shallows near the beach.

Once on scene the Volunteer crew established a tow and assessed one of the wet casualties for hypothermia, as he had been complaining of cold. wrapped in a thermal protective aid and life jacket the young mans condition was monitored for the duration of the return tow to Broadmarsh slipway, where a waiting Coastguard rescue unit was able to assist further. Thankfully the casualties condition improved quickly and an ambulance wasn't deemed necessary.

It transpires that the vessel and crew had launched earlier in the evening and ran out of fuel while navigating down the harbour, leaving them completely adrift in the failing light. After luckily reaching the shoreline one of the casualty crew used a handheld VHF to call for assistance, Solent coastguard then replied and the RNLI Lifeboat was tasked.

Aaron Gent of RNLI Portsmouth Lifeboat Station said:
"We always urge people to ensure they are adequately prepared to go afloat, and if they are unsure to seek assistance or training first. boaters should check local conditions & tide times, inform a friend of their plans and have relevant safety equipment to signal for assistance"
"Knowing how to use a VHF radio is a very important part of boating, as unlike a mobile phone, RNLI Lifeboats can detect and track signals"

This month is the beginning of the RNLI's respect the water campaign, which is aimed towards halving the number of accidental coastal deaths by 2024 and raising awareness of the hidden dangers which catch people out around the British and Irish coasts. In 2015, RNLI lifeboats were called out 1,217 times to motorboats in trouble. The largest single cause of call outs was due to machinery failure, in this instance a lack of fuel.

Anyone wishing to know more about the Respect the Water campaign or safety advice should search for "Respect the water" or visit

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