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Ramsgate RNLI assist in saving historic boat from sinking

Lifeboats News Release

On Tuesday 27 November at 4.50pm Ramsgate RNLI received an unusual call from the Ramsgate Royal Harbour Master Rob Brown asking for their assistance with a museum boat that was rapidly taking on water and in danger of sinking in the inner harbour.

The 'Cervia' being pumped out.

RNLI/Karen Cox

The 'Cervia' being pumped out.

The Cervia is a tug which was built during the Second World War in 1945 for the Ministry of War and originally named Empire Raymond. In her long career she assisted in the rescue of the Cunard liner Queen Elizabeth when she went aground in 1947. She also capsized and sank with the loss of her skipper and four crew whilst towing the P&O liner Arcadia from Tilbury Docks.

Raised two days later she made a trip to Ramsgate for a refit. She was sold for preservation to the Medway Maritime Museum in 1971 but returned to towing work in the North Sea two years later, ending up back in Ramsgate as a port tug before being placed into Ramsgate Maritime Museum in 1985, firstly in dry dock and then in the inner marina.

Sadly, in this incident, she had developed a hole in her hull about the size of a football and water was pouring in fast. The crew found themselves fighting against the rising water but initially managed to control the ingress.

When daylight arrived, the battle appeared to be lost and the tug was now sitting on the sand as the pumps onboard were unable to control the flow. It then became a joint venture with the Fire Brigade and the RNLI pumping the seawater out, and divers inspecting the hull.

During the day they managed to control the water with sandbags using the more powerful pumps of the fire service so that eventually they were able to stem the majority of the water and place a plate over the hole.

An inspection and assessment of the hull is due to be carried out and hopefully this grand old lady, the largest boat in the harbour at 320 tons will live on and remain part of our Maritime Heritage.

Although the RNLI is the charity that saves lives at sea sometimes it is called on to offer expertise and support to other emergency services in other situations. We are grateful to our volunteers for giving up their valuable time to help support the town’s museum and to all the public who provide the funding as we rely entirely on public donations.

Ends

Media Contacts

Karen Cox volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer email coxinthebox63@gmail.com (07779) 848431

Paul Dunt RNLI Regional Media Officer London and South East. Email paul_dunt@rnli.org.uk (07785) 296252.

The crew onboard the Cervia manning the pumps.

Neil Morgan

The crew onboard the Cervia manning the pumps.
The plume of water being pumped from the sinking tug.

RNLI/Karen Cox

The plume of water being pumped from the sinking tug.

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 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

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

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