Shoreham RNLI Lifeboat coxswain says farewell to the station
Shoreham lifeboat coxswain Steve Smith has hung up his wellies and pager after 21 years voluntary service to the RNLI.
Steve has showed dedication to the RNLI during his years of service and helped to save numerous lives.
Steve, who works as a cabinet maker, joined as inshore (ILB) and all weather lifeboat (ALB) crew in 2000 and quickly progressed to become an ILB helmsman qualified to drive and take command of the boat in 2001.
One of Steve’s first and memorable ‘shouts’ was the floods of Lewes and Uckfield in 2000 when the lifeboat crews spent 16 hours with the inshore lifeboat inland rescue residents, traders and pets from their flooded homes and businesses after the River Uck burst its banks.
In 2006 Steve because deputy second coxswain on the all weather lifeboat as well as navigator and trained in casualty care. He was also involved in a service that year involving a ‘runaway barge’ when the all weather lifeboat was launched to try and stop an enormous, 100m-long barge from straying into the busy shipping lanes in the Channel. The empty barge measuring 125ft across and as a tall as a two-storey building was drifting down the coast towards Seaford close to floating into the Dover shipping lanes, the busiest in the world.
It had broken free from the tug which was towing it and had suffered engine failure. The tug’s crew had managed to repair the engines but were forced to leave it as sea conditions worsened. Amid 13ft waves and gale force winds, Steve and a fellow lifeboat crew member scrambled aboard the tug and set up a tow rope and managed to drop one of the barge’s anchors before being forced to abandon ship. They were then airlifted to safety by the coastguard rescue helicopter.
He was also involved in the rescue of the yacht Crazy H, which was in a mid-channel collision with a beam trawler in August 2011, one of the first big shouts for the station’s new £2million Tamar-class all weather lifeboat Enid Collett. During heavy rain and a force six wind blowing, the yacht with six people on board had suffered major damage.
Steve and another crew member launched the inflatable Y-class boat from the Tamar and went alongside the yacht. They cut the rigging and mast away while a tow rope was attached from the lifeboat and they stayed on board the vessel administering first aid to a woman on the boat who had fractured her wrist.
Steve was awarded the RNLI’s Framed Letter of Thanks from the RNLI Chairman for his actions during the ‘hazardous and challenging’ service. His determination, courage and seamanship were of the highest order during the long and arduous service.
He also became the station’s lifeboat training co-ordinator in 2011 and was heavily involved in the training the lifeboat crew at Shoreham’s new purpose-built lifeboat station and on its new Tamar-class lifeboat.
In 2012 he became the lifeboat coxswain taking over from Peter Huxtable who retired from the role. He has served nine years as the last volunteer coxswain at the station.
Steve said: “The RNLI has been a huge part of my life for the last 21 years and I feel honoured and privileged to be involved. I have made great memories over the years and have served with dedicated volunteers.
“I couldn’t have done any of it, particular my role as coxswain without the support of the lifeboat crew and my family. It has been a team effort and I will miss it greatly.”
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.