All-weather and inshore lifeboat launch after two divers reported missing

Lifeboats News Release

Both Torbay RNLI station’s lifeboats were launched at 4:12pm today, Thursday 7 October, following a call to the coastguard from a dive boat stating that two divers had not surfaced 20 minutes after being due to do so.

RNLI/Torbay

The Torbay RNLI inshore lifeboat.
Both divers were later spotted south of Torbay’s Ore Stone by Trainee Helm, Sam Robinson, 1.3 miles from their agreed surface point.

At 4:12pm, Torbay RNLI station launched the inshore lifeboat (ILB) shortly followed by the all-weather lifeboat (ALB) after receiving a request from the coastguard at 3:58pm. The coastguard had taken a call that two scuba divers had not surfaced at their assigned point and were still missing 20 minutes after their agreed surfacing time.

Sam Robinson, Trainee Helm on the ILB spotted two heads beside a diver’s flag and SMB float at over 250 metres distance whilst on the way out. The divers were already more than a mile from their agreed surfacing point and still drifting with the tidal current when detected by Sam.

The divers, who had been in the water for over an hour, explained that they had surfaced as soon as they realised the strength of the currents below. They had dived to 14 metres and were submerged for only 17 minutes of their planned dive-time. However, when they reached the surface, they were already too far distant from their diveboat to be either easily seen or heard. Furthermore, their in-boat assistant was not expecting them back up for a further 30 more minutes..

Mark Criddle, Torbay RNLI Coxswain, said 'They were lucky to be spotted by Sam Robinson, Helm of our inshore lifeboat. Sam and the other ILB volunteer crew were still on their way to meet the dive boat, which was over a mile away at their planned surface point. The good thing is the divers had taken and deployed diver’s flags and surface markers, which meant it was easier to see them in the fading light.'

The two divers were offered a helicopter winchman paramedic as well as on-land paramedic for check-ups, both of which they declined due to their shallow dive and short depth times. After explaining the dangers of secondary drowning and what symptoms to look out for, our volunteer crew escorted the dive boat back to Brixham’s Breakwater slipway where the dive boat and divers were safely landed.

Notes to editors

  • Torbay Lifeboat station has been operating since 1866.
  • Torbay RNLI station operates both an all-weather and inshore lifeboat.
  • The crews have a remarkable history of bravery with 52 awards for gallantry.
  • To learn more about the lifeboat station go to: www.torbaylifeboat.co.uk
RNLI media contacts

For more information please telephone Niall Blatcher, RNLI volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer on 0773 4114 777 or niall_blatcher@rnli.org.uk or Emma Haines, Regional Media Officer on 01752 854457 or emma_haines@rnli.org.uk or contact the 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 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.

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