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RNLI Penlee lifeboat launches in early hours to search for vessel in distress

Lifeboats News Release

At 1.42am, during the early hours of this morning (Monday 15 May), on a wet and windy night, the crew pagers at Penlee sounded and a launch request was received from HM Coastguard at Falmouth.

RNLI/Patrick Harvey

Disposed of EPIRB

The Coastguard reported that a vessels emergency locater beacon (EPIRB) had been activated and the signal from this beacon was thought to be coming from an unused fishing vessel in Newlyn Harbour.

This vessel was quickly located and boarded by some of the Penlee volunteer lifeboat crew, they did a cursory search but the beacon could not be found. During this search the directional finder onboard the Penlee Severn Class all-weather lifeboat Ivan Ellen started to pick up a weak distress signal.

At 2.10am, in the hope of pinpointing this signal, Falmouth Coastguard requested the all-weather lifeboat Ivan Ellen to launch. The crew were tasked to search Mount's Bay using the lifeboats directional finder and radar to try and locate any vessels that maybe in distress.

Later in the night the Sennen Cove Lifeboat City of London III also launched and carried out a similar search towards Pendeen - nothing was found

After a thorough but negative search of Mount's Bay, the Ivan Ellen lifeboat was stood down, returning to station at 3.15am. She was washed down and made ready for her next service.

RNLI Coxswain Patch Harvey said, "It's imperative to locate any distress beacon to ensure that no one is in trouble. Turning off these beacons is critically important whether on the sea or on land".

The emergency beacon was located by the Newlyn Harbour Master, dumped in a metal bin on the North Pier in Newlyn, it is now switched off in safe hands at Penlee Lifeboat Station.

Extreme care and caution should always be taken when disposing of an active EPIRB. If in any doubt make contact with your local RNLI Lifeboat Station. Unfortunately this situation meant the unnecessary launch of two RNLI lifeboats and volunteer's time. The weather was a southerly force 6, rough sea with a 2m swell and heavy rain

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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Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries

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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