RNLI plays part in multi-agency search for US pilot

Lifeboats News Release

Crews from RNLI Bridlington and Scarborough were part of a major, multi-agency search for an American military jet which crashed into the sea yesterday.

The multi-agency search operation underway

RNLI/John Huntley

The multi-agency search operation underway

The F-15C Eagle, a single seat fighter with pilot on board, went into the sea on the morning of Monday 15th June, some 74 nautical miles off Flamborough Head. The jet was taking part in a routine training mission from 48th Fighter Wing based at RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk.

HM Coastguard tasked Bridlington and Scarborough RNLI to join the search operation just before 10am. Volunteer crews at both stations launched their Shannon All-weather lifeboats within minutes. Coordinated by the coastguard, they joined military aircraft, the coastguard helicopter and various other vessels in the search. Sea conditions were calm but the operation was made more difficult by low cloud cover and fog.

At 6.20pm on Monday, a spokesperson from 48th Fighter Wing confirmed the pilot as being deceased. Today he was named as 1st Lt. Kenneth Allen, from Utah.

Both lifeboats returned to their stations and were made ready for service by 10pm, after some 12 hours at sea.

Lee Marton, Coxswain of Scarborough Lifeboat, said: “The crews and other volunteers of RNLI Bridlington and Scarborough would like to offer their deepest sympathies to the family of the pilot and to all at 48th Fighter Wing, RAF Lakenheath.

“Our Shannon lifeboats have a range of some 250 nautical miles and are perfectly suited to this kind of task, but any 12 hour operation takes its toll on the crews, especially when there is such a sad outcome.

“I’d like to thank both volunteer crews and all parties involved in the search for their cooperation and professionalism during this major operation in what were very challenging conditions.”

Scarborough Lifeboat being recovered after 12 hours at sea

RNLI/Erik Woolcott

Scarborough Lifeboat being recovered after 12 hours at sea

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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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