Yarmouth lifeboat takes part in ‘Exercise Top Cover’

Lifeboats News Release

On Thursday 26th January, the RNLI’s Yarmouth all-weather lifeboat was involved in a momentous joint training exercise with the UK Coastguard’s new search and rescue aircraft off the Isle of Wight coast.

New AW189 Coastguard helicopter hovering above the RNLI's Yarmouth lifeboat

RNLI/Yarmouth

New AW189 Coastguard helicopter hovering above the RNLI's Yarmouth lifeboat.

‘Exercise Top Cover’ was a coordinated joint training exercise with Yarmouth and Poole RNLI to test the search and rescue capabilities of the UK Coastguard’s new AW189 helicopter and trial Jetstream aircraft, which took to the skies simultaneously for the first time ever.

During the exercise, the crew on board a Training Vessel from the RNLI’s Poole Lifeboat Station simulated a fire, then made a MAYDAY call to the UK Coastguard without disclosing their exact location and released a distress flare.

The Coastguard Jetstream aircraft circled the area approximately 7 miles south of The Needles, located the casualty vessel and then passed the position to Yarmouth RNLI lifeboat, guiding the lifeboat to the exact location. The new AW189 helicopter was also directed in by the Jetstream and when on scene exercised with the Yarmouth lifeboat to put a winchman down on the lifeboat’s deck and bring a stretcher down by highline transfer, both the winchman and stretcher were then recovered to the helicopter.

Jonathan Mustard, Duty Aeronautical Controller for the UK Coastguard said: "This training exercise was a great opportunity to test ourselves and the capabilities of the two new aircraft working together. Even though the weather conditions were fine, we were able to successfully locate a stricken vessel and perform a simulated extraction of casualties. There were more than 30 people involved in this exercise and I think that everyone would agree that it’s given us an excellent opportunity to put our assets to the test in their new environment."

Media Contacts

  • Richard Heming, Yarmouth RNLI Lifeboat Press Officer 07810 371233

  • Claire Hallett, Yarmouth RNLI Deputy Lifeboat Press Officer 07814 900398, claire_iow@yahoo.co.uk

  • Tim Ash, Divisional Media Relations manager (South East and London) 0207 6207426 / 07785 296252 / tim_ash@rnli.org.uk

  • For enquiries outside normal business hours, contact the RNLI duty press officer on 01202 336789

Winchman descending to the RNLI's Yamouth lifeboat from the new AW189 Coastguard helicopter.

RNLI/Yarmouth

Winchman descending to the RNLI's Yamouth lifeboat from the new AW189 Coastguard helicopter.
Winchman and stretcher on the deck of the RNLI's Yamouth lifeboat.

RNLI/Yarmouth

Winchman and stretcher on the deck of the RNLI's Yamouth lifeboat.
Following the successful recovery of the winchman and stretcher by the new Coastguard AW189 helicopter.

RNLI/Yarmouth

Following the successful recovery of the winchman and stretcher by the new Coastguard AW189 helicopter.

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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