RNLI Newhaven were tasked by HM Coastguard for immediate launch to an EPIRB deployed in the vicinity of Seaford Bay at 9.24pm on Saturday 5 June.
The Lifeboat launched into slight sea state, westerly force 3, with good visibility, but fading light. The casualty vessel, to which the EPIRB was registered, was confirmed to be a RIB.
The Severn class Lifeboat David and Elizabeth Acland and her volunteer crew proceeded to the south end of the River Ouse to take a bearing from the last transmitted signal.
Lewis Arnold, RNLI Newhaven Coxswain, said ‘As we departed the berth we were getting a signal on our direction finding equipment indicating that the signal was coming from the local marina. We checked out a couple of berths as we made way through the harbour on launch, but recommended HMCG mobile team continue to search around the marina whilst we searched landwards from the bay.'
Newhaven Lifeboat searched a course two cables south of Newhaven Breakwater towards West Beach both east and west, to assist the HMCG in triangulating the signal, to confirm the casualty vessel was not at sea.
No vessels in distress were found. A light sighted on the shore at West Beach was investigated by HMCG CRT and confirmed to be unrelated.
The Lifeboat continued their search, however, the lack of signal indicated a possibility that the EPIRB was transmitting from the other side of the Fort cliff.
The RIB was located by HMCG CRT officers alongside the marina. The vessel had taken on water due to a failed bilge pump. As the water level increased, the EPIRB was automatically activated.
RNLI Newhaven handed over to HMCG. The Lifeboat was ready for service again at 10.50pm.
Notes to Editors
• EPIRB - Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons are radio beacons dedicated to transmitting distress signals which can be used to locate a casualty. The versions fitted to ships under the GMDSS are carried on the upper deck or superstructure of the vessel and attached by a manual or hydrostatic release. This hydrostatic unit will automatically, at a depth of 2-3 metres, release the EPIRB should the ship sink, allowing it to float to the surface where it will begin to transmit a distress signal.
• GMDSS - Global Maritime Distress and Safety System is an internationally agreed-upon set of safety procedures, types of equipment, and communication protocols used to increase safety and make it easier to rescue distressed ships, boats and aircraft.
• RIB - Rigid Inflatable Boat.
• HMCG – HM Coastguard.
• CRT – Coastguard Rescue Teams.
• Established in 1803, Newhaven Lifeboat Station covers from Beachy Head to Brighton. It’s a modern afloat station and operates an all-weather Severn class lifeboat. The crews have been awarded 19 medals for gallantry.
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