Swanage RNLI all-weather lifeboat launches for red distress flare
With pagers sounding just before midnight on Tuesday 11 September the Swanage volunteer crew were tasked to assist Poole lifeboat in searching for the source of a red flare (an international distress signal) seen in Poole Bay in an area between Bournemouth and Boscombe piers.
Swanage all-weather lifeboat George Thomas Lacy launched at 12.07am. This launch marked the stations 50th response of the year and was almost exactly 12 hours after the previous incident the Swanage all-weather lifeboat attended.
Poole lifeboat had already been on scene and searching for about an hour and the Swanage crew were asked to extend the search further to the south and as far east as Hengistbury Head. The lifeboat’s search legs ran east/west along the coast and each one was around 5Nm long. With the first leg complete and nothing found the lifeboat came inshore by 0.5Nm and started the return leg back to the West.
Halfway back down the next leg at 1.15am another red flare was sighted by both the Swanage and Poole crews. This was reported to the Coastguard and both boats altered course and headed towards the flare from their positions. The lifeboats met just off Boscombe pier but had found nothing.
The search continued with both volunteer crews heading west carrying out a slow search. Halfway between Bournemouth and Boscombe pier a white parachute flare was fired to illuminate the area, again nothing was found. Investigations then started ashore as it was becoming increasingly likely that the red flares had been fired from the shore.
At 02:21am both Poole and Swanage lifeboats were stood down pending further investigations by Police and Coastguards ashore. The lifeboat was back on its slipway 20 minutes later, washed down, refuelled and made ready for service.
Coxswain Dave Turnbull said: 'If anyone sees a flare at sea they should always dial 999 so HM Coastguard can be alerted. When red flares are seen we have to assume the worst. Although nothing was found on this occasion, on another night it could have been a very different situation. We’d also like to remind people that firing a red flare in anything other than a distress situation is an offence.'
Notes to Editors
Photo shows Swanage RNLI all-weather lifeboat George Thomas Lacy launching from Swanage Slipway on exercise. Credit RNLI/RoydonsPhotography.
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