Ramsgate RNLI called out after red flares spotted
On Monday 16 December at 07.28 the all weather boat launched at the request of HM Coastguard to a report of red flares being sighted by commercial shipping, with an initial report of 42 miles North East of Ramsgate.
The sea conditions were moderate with a metre of swell and the wind south-westerly force five to six. Onboard the Esme Anderson in the drizzling rain it was a long journey for the volunteer crew as even making best possible speed in the conditions it took them two hours to reach the scene.
Deputy Launch Authority Rick Bean said ‘ this is the furthest distance that our volunteer crew have been sent this year and at the time of launch we were advised that there was two people onboard a sinking vessel and there was danger to life as the vessel was in the traffic lane. The traffic separation scheme or TSS, is basically a highly regulated road at sea where all the large commercial shipping restricted by the size of their draft, how much of the boats hull is under water, travel up the Channel in specific lanes of the same direction.’
Whilst enroute the crew received an update that the casualties wearing lifejackets had in fact abandoned their boat which had subsequently sunk in deep water, and were in a life raft. Then a further update came in that they had been recovered by a cargo ship that had seen the flares and altered course to assist. Once the situation was clarified it turned out that they had in fact been in the life raft overnight.
The all weather lifeboat was then tasked with recovering the life raft as it was drifting in the middle of the shipping lane and checking that no one else was in the water. The life raft was recovered, placed on the aft deck of the lifeboat and after being stood down by the Coastguards, they returned to station arriving about 12.15.
The casualties were then air lifted from the cargo ship by Rescue 163, the Coastguard Helicopter and taken to Dover Coastguard Station.
Thankfully there was a successful outcome in this case but it could have easily been very different. The RNLI recommend that anyone taking to a boat always wears a lifejacket and ensure everyone onboard knows how to call or signal for help in the event of an emergency.
The RNLI is an emergency service that is entirely funded by donations from the public and 95% of its crew are volunteers.
Karen Cox Lifeboat Press Officer email: firstname.lastname@example.org tel: 07779848431
Paul Dunt RNLI Regional Media Officer London and the South East email: email@example.com tel:07785296252
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.