RNLI Margate’s commitment to training - reflected in numbers
When Margate’s RNLI lifeboat station learned that its Mersey class lifeboat was to be replaced by a B class inshore lifeboat, the volunteer crew’s thoughts turned to the training required to operate the new boat.
A B class lifeboat from the RNLI’s relief fleet was allocated for the training in October 2020 but as the boathouse at Margate couldn’t accommodate three lifeboats it was sent to the neighbouring lifeboat station at Ramsgate where training would be based. This arrangement meant the crew could benefit from the knowledge of their colleagues at Ramsgate who were familiar with the B class and station personnel there provided valuable support throughout the period; the B class lifeboat stations at Whitstable and Walmer also providing input.
Seven months of intensive training followed supervised by the institution’s full-time training and coast management team. Over that period and up to when the B class was placed ‘on service’ at Margate on 30 April the 26-strong crew took part in 93 afloat exercises with the training boat and two station lifeboats (70 B class, 16 D class and 7 Mersey class). Collectively the crew clocked up 609.2 hours of afloat training time and 120.29 hours of shore crew-related training making a total of 729.49 hours, or the equivalent of 91 eight-hour days of volunteer commitment.
These figures do not include eight residential courses to date at the RNLI College at Poole for six crew members totalling 18 days, home-based e-Learning or training that has continued since the B class commenced operations. Early in the period, Covid-19 restrictions brought practical training to a standstill for several weeks.
At the peak of activity RNLI training assessors provided up to three, three-hour sessions a day, five days a week covering skills including: safety procedures; navigation and communications; boathandling and advanced training for the designated helms, not forgetting the knowledge required to maintain the lifeboat and associated launching equipment. Non-seagoing crew members were trained in launch and recovery procedures at Margate from where local coast familiarisation navigation exercises were also carried out.
As well as transitioning to the new class of boat it was important for the crew to maintain the training routine for the existing Mersey class all-weather and D class inshore lifeboats at Margate and full operational availability was maintained throughout the period under the station’s volunteer management and operations team.
Derek Amas, Lifeboat Operations Manager, RNLI Margate said: ‘The figures only tell part of the story. Each three-hour session spent training by the crew means three hours not spent with their families, something they accept as part of the volunteer commitment so we are grateful for the sacrifices their families have made supporting us in our work. We are also grateful to local employers who have been understanding with their employees’ contribution to saving lives at sea. We feel we are now ready to meet the challenges of what is expected to be a busy summer season.’
1. Detailed crew briefings and debriefings were held before and after each exercise. Photo: RNLI Margate
2. Relief lifeboat B-815 prepares for a training exercise at Margate. Photo: RNLI Margate
3. Covid precaution protocols were followed during the training exercises. Photo: RNLI Margate
Notes to editors
· Margate lifeboat station has been operating since 1860. To learn more about the lifeboat station go to: https://rnli.org/find-my-nearest/lifeboat-stations/margate-lifeboat-station
RNLI media contacts
For more information please contact:
· Peter Barker, RNLI volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer on 07974 064304 or Peter_Barker@rnli.org.uk
· Paul Dunt, Regional Media Officer (South East) on 0207 6207416, 07786 668825 or Paul_Dunt@rnli.org.uk
· RNLI Press Office on 01202 336789.
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.
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 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.