Fraserburgh Lifeboat out on the 51st Anniversary of the 1970 Disaster
The Fraserburgh Trent class lifeboat RNLB Willie and May Gall was launched at 8.40 am 21 January 2021 after the Coastguard had received an emergency distress signal from an EPIRB which had been activated.
An EPIRB is an emergency device that is installed on vessels and sends a distress signal to HM Coastguard when activated.
RNLI volunteers responded immediately when paged and within minutes Fraserburgh Lifeboat was leaving the harbour with Coxswain Vic Sutherland, in command and John Stephen as navigator, Chay Cumming as mechanic and Stephen Brown, Lindsay Palmer and Nathan Whyte aboard as crew.
They spent three hours in high seas and gale force winds searching an area between Fraserburgh and Macduff with other rescue teams before being stood down.
The search was called off only when the Coastguard were satisfied that no vessel was in distress and it was safe to return to station.
The Willie and May Gall returned to berth and was refuelled and made ready for service.
After debriefing the crew Coxswain Sutherland laid a wreath at the Fraserburgh Lifeboat Memorial Statue in memory of the crew who didn’t come home on 21 January 1970.
The Fraserburgh Lifeboat Duchess of Kent capsized 40 miles NE by E of Fraserburgh on the 21st of January while on service to the Danish fishing vessel Opal.
Five of the six crew were lost.
Coxswain John Stephen, Mechanic Fred Kirkness, and volunteers William Hadden, James Slessor Buchan and James Buchan.
The only survivor was John (Jackson) Buchan
"Greater Love Hath No Man Than This, To Lay Down His Life For His Fellowmen"
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.