RNLI Jersey celebrates 50 years at St Catherine's

Lifeboats News Release

This weekend marks 50 years of an RNLI lifeboat station at St Catherine's.

The Atlantic 85 being launched from a trailer pushed into the sea by the station tractor. The waves are breaking across the front of the tractor under a grey sky.

RNLI/Helier de Veulle

The Atlantic 85 Eric W Wilson launching from the current station
RNLI Jersey is celebrating St Catherine's Lifeboat Station's 50th anniversary this weekend with a party for crew members from the St Catherine's and St Helier lifeboat stations and their families.

A station was first opened at St Catherine's on 7 October 1969 on the north side of Gibraltar Rock, where a small D Class lifeboat was stationed in an old German war tunnel. In the following 50 years, the station has moved twice and seen 5 different lifeboats permanently deployed (plus the various relief boats, which have visited while the lifeboats were being serviced).

There have been a number of memorable rescues for the crew at St Catherine's including a very challenging search and rescue for two missing surfers on New Year's Day in 1994 and the joint service to rescue the passengers and crew from the St Malo ferry which hit rocks near Corbiere in 1995.

More recently the station has featured in BBC 2's Saving Lives at Sea with the rescue of an outrigger canoe in challenging conditions in December 2018.

The past 50 years have seen huge changes in the technology and design of the boats and the personal safety equipment worn by the crew. The "D" class inflatable Lifeboat, which had a single engine, was operational in summer months only, and was launched by the crew pushing the boat down the nearby slipway on a trailer. St Catherine's now operates a 'B' class Atlantic 85 lifeboat, with twin engines, radar, VHF direction-finding equipment and a righting mechanism in the event of capsize. The 1.8 tonne lifeboat is now launched from a trailer which is pushed down the beach by a tractor specifically designed to deal with the tidal range and soft shingle of St Catherine's Bay.

Note to Editors

The attached photos show
- the 'C' class lifeboat on the slip at St Catherine's Breakwater. The lifeboat was on station from April 1984 to October 1990.
- the current 'B' class Atlantic 85 being launched from the trailer.
A faded colour photo showing the class-C lifeboat ready to be launched down the slip underneath St Catherine's breakwater on a hot sunny day. The breakwater itself extends into the distance.

RNLI Jersey

The C-class lifeboat on the slip at St Catherine's Breakwater.

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.

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