Weston-super-Mare RNLI Volunteers meet French Naval crew in the Bristol Channel

Lifeboats News Release

A routine training exercise for the crew of Weston’s Atlantic 75 lifeboat, Paul Alexander, culminated in an invitation to board a French Naval Ship which was enroute to a scheduled stop in Cardiff.

Commanding Officer FS Panthére

RNLI Weston crew Shane Wells and Simon Cresser with the officers and crew of FS Panthére

The Léopard class training ship, FS Panthère (A749), which was commissioned in 1982, was visiting British waters as part of a five ship flotilla. At the time of the unplanned meeting with the RNLI crew, they were sailing in the Bristol Channel for the second period at sea of first-year students of the French Naval Academy.

The voyage was planned to develop skills in navigation along with practical training of French officer-candidates.

The ships of this class can compose a crew of 1 officer, 10 sailors, and 4 quartermasters; plus 1 or 2 officers, 2 instructors, and 18 students. This varies depending on the mission which the ship is assigned.

The RNLI crews conduct extensive training across their operational area and see many different vessels navigating the channel, but they rarely see Naval ships, especially from other nations.

Simon Cresser, Atlantic 75 lifeboat helm said: ‘It was a privilege to be invited aboard by the French Captain who was keen to learn about the RNLI’s purpose of saving lives at sea. We were introduced to the officers and students and were able to explain the dangers we have at the coast in Weston with the fast moving tides. We also described the range of work that the RNLI undertakes in its vision of ending preventable loss of life at sea’.

Notes to editors

The photographs attached should be credited to the commanding officer of FS Panthère and show the following:

· Atlantic 75 helm, Simon Cresser climbing the ladder and being welcomed onto the FS Panthère.

· Atlantic 75 helm Simon Cresser (right) and boat crew Shane Wells (Left) with the French officers, crew and students aboard the FS Panthère in the Bristol Channel.

RNLI media contacts

For further information, please contact Weston-super-Mare RNLI Lifeboat Press Officer Glyn Hayes on 01934 645555 or 07774 181418 or RNLI Deputy Lifeboat Press Officer Cai Budd on 07854 199693 or contact the RNLI Press Office on 01202 336789.

Lifeboats in service at Weston-super-Mare

  • Atlantic 75 lifeboat named Paul Alexander
  • D-Class lifeboat named Adrian Beaumont

The station was established in 1882 at the request of the local inhabitants and moved into its boathouse in 1902. In 2013 we had to leave our lifeboat station on Birnbeck Island as the access pier had become too dangerous. The temporary station at Knightstone is until we can get a new station built.

To find out more information about Weston-super-Mare lifeboat and for recent events, please log onto our website or contact Glyn Hayes on 01934 645555.


The RNLI’s annual running costs are around £176.5m (2017) – approximately £485,000 per day – and, as a registered charity, the organisation continues to rely on voluntary contributions and legacies for income

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Commanding Officer FS Panthére

RNLI Crew being welcomed aboard FS Panthére

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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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