Dover RNLI volunteers have second early wake-up call two days in a row

Lifeboats News Release

The volunteer lifeboat crew at Dover had their second early call out in a row this morning when a 999 call was received just after 6am.

Dover RNLI lifeboat and a UK Coastguard search and rescue helicopter based at Lydd involved in today's search

Sarah Hewes

Dover RNLI lifeboat and a UK Coastguard search and rescue helicopter based at Lydd involved in today's search

In calmer seas and with little breeze, in comparison to the recent challenging weather conditions brought by Storm Angus, the lifeboat crew members leapt from their beds at 6.07am at the sound of their pagers, after the UK Coastguard requested assistance.

The call came amid reports that a group of people were lost in a boat off the east Kent Coast with several onboard feeling unwell. They alerted emergency services that they were in a boat and could "see five red lights and a train".

Dover RNLI’s Severn class lifeboat, City of London II, was launched at 6:20am and proceeded to conduct a search from Dover towards Folkestone Harbour alongside the Coastguard search and rescue helicopter from Lydd.

Upon daylight, a boat with seven people on board - including three with suspected hypothermia - was then found heading into Folkestone Harbour, where they were met by Kent Police and UK Coastguard search and rescue teams on the shore. However this wasn’t the end of the search as it was believed there was the possibility of a second boat.

The search and rescue efforts continued until it was established that this boat was the one that had made the original call. Kent Police, South East Coast Ambulance Service (SECAMBS) and UK Border Force were all involved.

Robert Bendhiaf, duty coxswain of Dover RNLI lifeboat, said: ‘As the charity that saves lives at sea, the RNLI’s role is to assist those in danger, which our volunteer lifeboat crews have been carrying out without prejudice since 1824. Our lifeboat crews launch simply to assist those in danger or distress at sea. We make no judgement on the status of those we rescue, their motives for being on the water, or what brought them into peril on the sea.

'We make no distinction by nationality, race, sex or creed. Once a rescue has taken place and we are satisfied that a casualty is no longer at risk they are handed over to the relevant agencies, be it an ambulance crew, police or – as in this case – Border Force . In all instances our lifeboat crews’ concern is for the safety and wellbeing of the person(s) they rescue. In today's incident, myself and fellow volunteers were delighted this morning to discover seven persons safe and well.'

A spokesperson for the UK Home Office said: 'At 5:32am this morning (Wednesday, 23 November), a 999 call to Kent Police raised concerns about a small boat off the coast of Dover. The Maritime and Coastguard Agency launched a search and rescue operation with Dover RNLI to locate the boat. It is now in Folkestone Harbour and initial enquiries suggest there were seven men on board. All those on board are now being dealt with by Border Force.'

RNLI media contacts

  • Tim Ash, RNLI Public Relations Manager (London/East/South East) on 0207 6207426, 07785 296252
  • Ed Baker, Dover RNLI Volunteer Press Officer on 0771679967,
  • For enquiries outside normal business hours, contact the RNLI duty press officer on 01202 336789
Library image of Dover RNLI's Severn class lifeboat, 'City of London II'


Library image of Dover RNLI's Severn class lifeboat, 'City of London II'

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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