Volunteers benefit from cross-agency training and briefing

Lifeboats News Release

Volunteer crew from Walmer RNLI visited the Maritime Rescue Co-Ordination Centre at St Margaret’s on 9 July.

Walmer lifeboat crew with Coastguard Rescue helicopter 163 from Lydd.

RNLI/Christopher Winslade

Walmer crew with Coastguard Rescue helicopter.

Built on a former World War I gun emplacement, the Coastguard Station overlooks the Strait of Dover which became known as ‘Hellfire Corner’ during World War II due to the gunnery duel between British and German forces.

Lifeboat crew were given a tour of the Operations Room, workplace of three further Walmer volunteers, where the work of the station and mobile teams was explained. More than 500 ships a day pass through the Strait under the watchful eye of the coastguard. They were shown live radar feeds, across multiple computer screens, of vessels moving through the English Channel and up as far as Felixstowe. They were able to listen to transmissions between ships and the coastguard. The system by which calls are co-ordinated between all the emergency services was also explained as was how lifeboat training exercises at weekends across up to twenty different stations is co-ordinated.

The Coastguard Rescue helicopter also landed at the station, and the lifeboat crew was invited to sit in the aircraft. An explanation was given of how it operates in a search and rescue capacity, including how their winching operations are carried out between it, casualties and casualty vessels.

The evening ended with lifeboat crew watching the helicopter take off to return to its base at Lydd, producing a downdraft estimated as the same force as a Category 1 hurricane.

In discussions after the visit, crew commented on the calm atmosphere in the sometimes pressurised environment of the Ops Room and were fascinated by the amount of technical equipment available to and operated by the duty officers.

RNLI media contacts

  • Chris Winslade, Lifeboat Press Officer, Walmer Lifeboat Station 01304 374475, 07906 623037 christopherwinslade@rnli.org.uk

· Paul Dunt, RNLI Press Officer (London/East/South East) on 0207 620 7426, 07785 296252, paul_dunt@rnli.org.uk

· For enquiries outside normal business hours, contact the RNLI duty press officer on 01202 336789

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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 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and 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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