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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 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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