Volley of flares spark Aberdeen Lifeboat search

Lifeboats News Release

Both of Aberdeen’s RNLI lifeboats put to sea at 9.35pm last night, Friday 17 July, following sightings, confirmed by UK Coastguard, of 6 red distress flares over the Aberdeen Harbour channel/Girdleness Head/Aberdeen South Harbour area.

‘Bon Accord’, Aberdeen’s Severn-class all-weather lifeboat, returning to base from her search following sightings of distress flares at Girdleness Head

Mark Gray/RNLI Aberdeen

‘Bon Accord’, Aberdeen’s Severn-class all-weather lifeboat, returning to base from her search following sightings of distress flares at Girdleness Head

The D-class ‘Buoy Woody 85N’ searched the area from the Victoria Bridge to Aberdeen Harbour entrance while the Severn-class ‘Bon Accord’ searched the waters round and south of Girdleness lighthouse. UK Coastguard officers joined the search ashore.

Aberdeen Lifeboat 2nd coxswain Michael Cowlam says: “Conditions for the search were good, albeit the light was fading. No further distress signals were seen or received however, and, with nothing found, the lifeboats returned to base by 11pm.

UK Coastguard have reported the incident to Police Scotland as a suspected case of distress flares being fired with malicious intent.

Bill Deans MBE, lifeboat operations manager at Aberdeen Lifeboat Station, says: “This irresponsible act forced 9 RNLI volunteers to abandon social distancing to crew the lifeboats. It tied up valuable search and rescue (SAR) resources at sea and ashore. This malicious false alarm also wasted thousands of pounds of charitable donations by Aberdonians to fund their lifeboats – at a time when Covid-19 has had a significant detrimental impact on RNLI fundraising locally and nationally.”

Photographed from ‘Bon Accord’, the D-class ‘Buoy Woody 85N’ leads the way home as the last glow of sunset silhouettes the city of Aberdeen

Mark Gray/RNLI Aberdeen

Photographed from ‘Bon Accord’, the D-class ‘Buoy Woody 85N’ leads the way home as the last glow of sunset silhouettes the city of Aberdeen

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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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