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Lifeboats News Release



At approximately 01:26am on Sunday 23rd July, Girvan Lifeboats volunteer crews pagers were activated by Belfast Coastguard.

A member of the public raised concerns for two small sailing dinghy’s which had left Prestwick on Saturday morning (22nd July) and had failed to return, this prompted a multi agency search being put in place by UK Coastguard Belfast operations centre.

Girvan's Mersey Class Lifeboat 'Silvia Burrell' was launched within minutes of the pagers going off and proceeded to make best speed Northwards.

Enquiries meanwhile were being conducted by officers from Police Scotland both in Ayrshire and further afield in relation to the two vehicles which had been located which belonged to the sailors, while an extensive area search was conducted involving Coastguard Rescue Teams from Ardrossan, Ayr Coastguard Rescue Team, Girvan and Arran Coastguard Rescue Team, volunteer RNLI lifeboat crews from RNLI Troon Lifeboat, Arran and Girvan Lifeboat and the Coastguard Search and Rescue helicopter from Prestwick.

The coastline from Girvan to Ardrossan was slowly searched including ports, marinas and other likely areas for boats coming ashore by Ardrossan, Ayr and Girvan Coastguard Rescue Teams with the team based on Arran also searching likely spots on the island along the East and South coasts of the island.

Girvan lifeboat joined the extensive search at sea which was also being conducted at the same time with lifeboats from Troon and Arran following a specific search plan devised by CGOC Belfast Coastguard based on the weather and tide conditions which had been experienced throughout the day. This seen our volunteer crew carry out a search from Girvan to approx Ayr and then across to Arran.
At first light, Coastguard helicopter Rescue 199 lifted from its base at Prestwick and proceeded to conduct a coastline search of the Isle of Arran. During this search, two small sailing boats matching the description of those being searched for were located on the shoreline.

Enquiries were then conducted on Arran which confirmed this was the two boats which the concerns were raised for and it was quickly established that all persons were safe and well and at no time were in need of any assistance.

Shortly after 6am, all rescue resources were then released from the incident and Girvan lifeboat returned to station where the lifeboat was washed, refuelled and made ready for service, however no such rest for our volunteer crew who got straight to work setting up for the Harbour Gala which was due to start in a mere 6hrs time.

This call was classed as a False Alarm with Good Intent and praise the member of the public who raised concerns and did the correct thing by phoning 999 and asking for the coastguard, due to the passage of time and the sailing boats not having returned.

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 238 lifeboat stations, including four along the River Thames and inland lifeboat stations at Loch Ness, Lough Derg, Enniskillen, Carrybridge and Lough Ree. Additionally the RNLI has more than 1,000 lifeguards on over 240 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.

Learn more about the RNLI

For more information please visit the RNLI website or Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. News releases, videos and photos are available on the News Centre.

Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries

Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 or by email.


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