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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 RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates over 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.

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Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries

Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 (UK) or 1800 991802 (Ireland) or or by email.