Tynemouth RNLI lifeboat crew takes part in ferry fire exercise

Lifeboats News Release

Tynemouth RNLI lifeboat crew members have taken part in a training exercise which was held on the River Tyne to practice for a multi-agency response to a fire on board the Shields Ferry.

The exercise, which took place on Wednesday morning (12th October) was an opportunity for the RNLI volunteers to join the other emergency services and the Ferry crew to co-ordinate their response in the event of a major incident occurring on the cross-Tyne passenger service.

The mock scene, in mid river, saw the Nexus-operated Shields Ferry attended in the river by Tynemouth RNLI all weather lifeboat, a Port of Tyne launch and the Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service’s fireboat. Other teams from Tyne & Wear Fire and Rescue Service and Northumbria Police joined the exercise on shore.

The aims were to test command and control links, response times, evacuation procedures, the rescue of a trapped casualty, and the response to casualties arriving at landing points.

Shields Ferry Manager, Carol Timlin, said: 'As a responsible ferry operator it is vital that we are ready to deal with emergency situations.

'Training exercises like this allow us to work with the emergency services, the Port, and the RNLI to make sure that we are ready in the unlikely event that a major incident occurs.

'All of the agencies involved find these type of exercises useful. We train all the time for all sorts of eventualities. The safety of passengers and crew is the top priority at all times.'

The mock emergency began at 9.45am when the Ferry crew radioed that there was smoke coming from the engines on board their vessel, the Pride of the Tyne.

This was followed by an engine failure and the evacuation of all the passengers on board, who were played by members of Nexus staff, onto the RNLI lifeboat and the Port of Tyne launch.

A person was then reported as having jumped into the water and a search and rescue operation was practised by the RNLI crew using a dummy.

Another element of the scenario involved dealing with a casualty who had become trapped fighting a fire in the ferry’s engine room.

There was also a scenario included for managing the spillage of diesel oil into the river.

The exercise was concluded when the ferry crew simulated being able to re-start the ferry’s engines and bring her back to the Nothumbria Police Marine Division pontoon at Viking Park.

All agencies then took part in a full debrief to ensure all the learning outcomes of the day were realised.

Adrian Don, spokesman for Tynemouth RNLI lifeboat station, said: 'This was a very worthwhile exercise with our crews identifying situations that would be unique to the Shields ferry.

'Lessons were learnt by all of the emergency crews involved and although we hope a real emergency never occurs, it's good to know that we are prepared.'


Tynemouth RNLI lifeboat station was established in 1862 although there have been lifeboats on the river Tyne since the world's first purpose built lifeboat was launched here in 1790. The station has 30 volunteer crew members who come from all walks of life. We operate two lifeboats: The Severn class all weather lifeboat Spirit of Northumberland and the D class inshore lifeboat Mark Noble. We have a website at www.tynemouth-lifeboat.org and you can find us on Facebook at Facebook.com/TynemouthRNLI or follow us on Twitter @TynemouthRNLI

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