Tighnabruaich lifeboat on exercise with new Coastguard rescue helicopter

Lifeboats News Release

Last weekend saw the Coastguard’s latest Sikorsky helicopter visit Tighnabruaich to acquaint the lifeboat crew and the local volunteer mobile Coastguard team with the new aircraft.

The Sikorsky helicopter has replaced the venerable old Sea King that the military operated in this area until the start of this year when they were retired and the Coastguard took over the search and rescue role.

The new aircraft is larger, heavier and faster than the helicopter it replaced and new procedures are required to operate with lifeboats and shore teams, due to the increased downdraft from the rotor.  It has an operational radius of 250 miles with 30 minutes on task at the maximum range. It can fly at 150 knots and carries a crew of four.

The aircraft operate from Prestwick airfield and cover the Argyll area as well as south west coast of Scotland and the central belt.

Following a briefing from the pilot the helicopter took off and operated with Tighnabruaich RNLI Atlantic 85 lifeboat in the Kyles of Bute.

The lifeboat has been out on several shouts (calls for assistance) in recent weeks and over 75% of these rescues have involved vessels with mechanical engine problems.  In most cases it was the first outing of the season for these boats and fuel, cooling water, and controls were to blame for the breakdowns.

The RNLI strongly advises boat owners to check their boats out thoroughly before proceeding to sea, and not to rely on last years fuel being clean and fit for purpose.  A recent rescue required a 50 minute transit to the head of Loch Fyne in order to tow a broken down vessel half a mile to a mooring.

RNLI media contacts

Donald Clark, Lifeboat Press Officer, 07799 661493, info@dcmarine.co.uk, donald_clark@rnli.org.uk

Henry Weaver, RNLI Press Officer for Scotland, 01738 642986, 07771 943026, henry_weaver@rnli.org.uk

Richard Smith, RNLI Public Relations Manager for Scotland, 01738 642956, 07786 668903, richard_smith2@rnli.org.uk

RNLI Press Office, 01202 336789

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 237 lifeboat stations, including four along the River Thames and inland lifeboat stations at Loch Ness, Lough Derg, Enniskillen and Lough Ree. Additionally the RNLI has more than 1,000 lifeguards on over 180 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

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