Assessment Day Walmer RNLI

Lifeboats News Release

A long afternoon and evening for volunteers on Tuesday 22 June when numerous assessments, both afloat and shoreside, were successfully completed.

RNLI/Christopher Winslade

Ed Benson qualified as a helm on the station’s D Class inshore lifeboat in October last year and joined seven other crew qualified to helm the boat. He has since been undertaking exercise time to enable him to acquire the skills needed to become a helm on the station's larger Atlantic 85 Donald McLauchlan.

James Foster qualified as competent crew in March last year. Since then, he has been put on a plan to become a D Class helm, aiming to become the ninth crew member qualified on the station’s Duggie Rodbard II. This has included a recent course at the RNLI College in Poole where he spent four intense days following a mixture of classroom based and afloat training to enable him to learn the skills needed when in command of a lifeboat.

Both volunteers launched with their crews on Tuesday. After giving a detailed briefing, and under the watchful eyes of Area Lifesaving Manager (ALM) Allen Head and RNLI Divisional Assessor Trainer (DAT) Dave Needham, Ed and James launched into rough seas and a strengthening wind to undertake the exercise between Sandown Castle and Kingsdown up to two nautical miles offshore. The assessments took the form of e-navigation, anchoring and veering. During the course of the exercise, the ALM and DAT swapped boats.

Given the strength of the wind and swell, a decision was made to carry out a net recovery of the Atlantic 85. A net recovery is used in poor sea conditions and involves the helm steering the boat into the trailer on the back of a wave. The lifeboat is then captured by a collapsing net, a recovery which requires skill and teamwork between both the helm and the tractor driver. Duggie Rodbard II was recovered after beaching on the shingle.

A thorough debrief was carried out where the exercise was discussed.

Earlier in the day, as we are now back to full training, four crew underwent their five-yearly fitness tests. Victoria Ward who hopes soon to become trainee crew was assessed on her knowledge of PPE and helm Dan Sinclair was revalidated as a Lifeboat Training Assessor (LTA). Meanwhile, Caleb Ward was assessed by the station’s other LTA Lee Waddon on his continuing shoreside training with to view to accessing the RNLI’s tractor driving programme.

These successes follow on from Sunday’s exercise when crew member Ben Winslade completed his own assessments with anchoring, veering and towing while making his way to competent crew status.

Speaking after the completion of the exercise, Operations Manager Denis Brophy said: ‘It is testament to the commitment, resolve and dedication shown by Ed and James, and that of all our other volunteers that they were successful tonight.’


Notes to editors

Walmer lifeboat station was established in 1856.

It currently operates two inshore lifeboats – a B Class Atlantic 85 Donald McLauchlan and a smaller D Class Duggie Rodbard II.

Crews have received 28 Awards for Gallantry

Photo 1: Walmer crew and assessors head for launch.

Photo 2: Launching the D Class inshore lifeboat Duggie Rodbard II.

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RNLI/Christopher Winslade

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