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Thurso, Longhope and Stromness lifeboats involved in rescue of missing diver

Lifeboats News Release

A major sea search was launched yesterday evening in the Pentland Firth after a scallop diver was reported missing off the coast of Orkney, near Burwick, South Ronaldsay.

Three RNLI Lifeboats were launched from Thurso, Longhope and Stromness, and two Coastguard Search and Rescue helicopters were dispatched, one from Sumburgh, Shetland and the other Dalcross, Inverness.

Local land based coastguard teams and local vessels have also been involved in the search for the diver, who was reported missing to Shetland Coastguard at around 5pm. The search has covered a wide area from Dunnet Head out to the Pentland Skerries, around the Islands within the Pentland Firth and the southern entrance to Scapa Flow.

The Lifeboats were stood down around 11pm and returned to their stations, but on arrival back at their stations, Coastguards decided to have the lifeboats refuel and return to carry out further searches.

Meanwhile, the Shetland Helicopter was stood down but the Inverness Helicopter continued searching.

Once re-launched, the three lifeboats were given areas to search and on completion of these searches the lifeboats were again stood down, between 2-3am.

Thurso lifeboat and her volunteer crew were on their way back to the station and almost at Scrabster when the message came through at 3.10am from Shetland Coastguard to say the diver had been found.

A Russian registered sail training vessel Yunyi Baltiets who had been sailing up the east coast of Scotland, had located the diver in the sea 1-2 miles east of Duncansby Head and retrieved him from the water. The vessel, which had a doctor on board, reported that the diver was alive and in reasonable health.

Thurso Lifeboat was immediately diverted back to meet the Yunyi Baltiets and rendezvoused with the vessel at 4am, 2 miles north of Duncansby Head.

The diver was taken aboard the Thurso lifeboat, where he was cold but communicating very well and appeared to be in reasonable health. The crew got him out of his diving gear and into warm dry clothes and the medic on board checked him over. The diver told the lifeboat crew when he saw the sail vessel he swam towards it and managed to catch their attention, despite it being dark at the time.

On arrival in Scrabster the Diver quickly posed for a photo showing how happy he was, before being checked over by the Ambulance crew and transferred to Wick General Hospital as a precaution.

The Thurso crew were on service for just over 12 hours in total, however the diver was actually in the water for 11 hours.

RNLI media contacts

Karen Munro, Thurso Lifeboat Volunteer Press Officer,

07815 622596

Henry Weaver, RNLI Press Officer for Scotland, 01738 642986, 07771 943026,

Richard Smith, RNLI Public Relations Manager for Scotland, 01738 642956, 07786 668903,

RNLI Press Office, 01202 336789

Missing diver at Thurso Lifeboat Station after being rescued


Missing diver at Thurso Lifeboat Station after being rescued
Thurso lifeboat search pattern

Marine Traffic

Thurso lifeboat search pattern
Thurso Severn class lifeboat The Taylors (17-42) arriving back into Scrabster with missing diver


Thurso Lifeboat in the foreground, with Stromness Lifeboat searching the Pentland Firth


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.

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