Busy weekend for Littlehampton RNLI volunteer crew

Lifeboats News Release

Over the first weekend of September both Littlehampton RNLI's lifeboats were launched on six separate occasions to assist in the search for three swimmers reported missing and the retrieval of three leisure vessels.

Library photograph of both Littlrhampton Lifeboats at sea

RNLI/Ray Pye

Library photograph of both Littlrhampton Lifeboats at sea

At 11.18pm on Friday 1 September, Littlehampton RNLI’s Atlantic 85 lifeboat, Renée Sherman, and volunteer crew launched in response to a call from the UK Coastguard to assist in the search for three missing swimmers.

The group had been seen swimming at around 8.30pm and when they did not return they were reported missing.

The lifeboat crew were instructed to carry out a thorough search of an area south west of the harbour entrance towards Bognor Regis. At 11.30pm the stations D-class lifeboat, Ray of Hope, was launched to give assistance in the search, initially along the River Arun up to the A259 road bridge and then out at sea along the shore line towards Climping.

At 1.40am on Saturday, having completed the search, which was inconclusive, the UK Coastguard requested the lifeboat to stand down and return to the station. The Atlantic 85 lifeboat continued the search further out to sea and was joined by a Coastguard search and rescue helicopter.

At 2.30am the UK Coastguard terminated the search, which again had proved inconclusive, the lifeboat was stood down and returned to the station where it was made ready for service. The helicopter returned to its base.

At 10.15am on Sunday 3 September the lifeboat crew received a call from the UK Coastguard requesting assistance for the crew of a small leisure craft that had suffered engine failure. The station's D-class lifeboat Ray of Hope and volunteer crew were already out on exercise and set off up the river towards the reported location, near the Black Rabbit in Arundel.

During the journey, the crew received a further report advising that the casualty’s engine had been re-started and was continuing its journey. The lifeboat was stood down and returned to the station. A second call from the UK Coastguard was received at 1.15pm reporting that a RIB (Rigid Inflatable Boat) had capsized at the entrance to the harbour and its crew of three teenagers were in the water hanging on to the side of the craft.

The lifeboat was launched at 1.24pm and headed out to the scene. On arrival, it was established that the lifeguards had recovered the three teenagers to the shore. The lifeboat crew rigged a tow line to the casualty and returned it to the Harbour Master's moorings. The lifeboat returned to the station at 1.50pm and was made ready for service.

A third call from the UK Coastguard was received at 1.30pm, following a VHF message from the crew of a 28ft sailing yacht reporting their engines had failed and they were drifting half a mile south of the harbour entrance. The Atlantic 85 lifeboat, Renée Sherman, launched and arrived to find the vessel had already run aground due to the low water level, so it was agreed it would be safer to anchor the casualty to prevent any movement once the tide started to return.

The lifeboat crew and a UK Coastguard Rescue Team attached the heavy anchor to the casualty in readiness for rigging a tow-line later in the evening to enable the casualty to be towed back to its moorings. The lifeboat returned to the station. At 7.15pm both lifeboats were launched in readiness to recover the grounded yacht. Due to the worsening weather conditions, an assessment was made that it was not safe enough to carry out the recovery. As the yacht had already been securely anchored the decision was taken for both lifeboats to stand down and wait until the weather improved. Both lifeboats returned to the station at 8.30pm.

On Monday 4 September, the Harbour Master's team towed the casualty back to the Harbour Masters Quay, where it was safely secured.

RNLI media contacts

  • Ray Pye, Littlehampton RNLI Volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer / 07854 074688, email press@littlehamptonlifeboat.org.uk
  • Tim Ash, RNLI Public Relations Manager (London/East/South East) on 0207 6207426, 07785 296252 email tim_ash@rnli.org.uk
  • Paul Dunt, RNLI Press Officer (London/East/South East) on 0207 620 7416, 07786 668825 email paul_dunt@rnli.org.uk
  • For enquiries outside normal business hours, contact the RNLI duty press officer on 01202 336789 email pressoffice@rnli.org

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, in a normal year, 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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Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries

Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 (UK) or 1800 991802 (Ireland) or by email.