Last weekend of January sees two call outs for the volunteers of Harwich RNLI

Lifeboats News Release

The last weekend of January saw the Harwich RNLI volunteers investigate an EPIRB (emergency position indicating radio beacon) distress signal in the Felixstowe area, and reports of a paddle boarder in distress at the entrance to the River Deben.


Harwich all-weather lifeboat leaving its berth

The first of the weekend’s services came just before 7pm on Saturday 29 January when the volunteers were paged at 6:53pm by the UK Coastguard, requesting the launch of relief all-weather lifeboat Duke of Kent, to investigate an EPIRB distress signal in the Port of Felixstowe area.

The volunteers used the lifeboat’s direction finding (DF) equipment to track down the signal. While this was happening the coastguard were using the unique code within the distress signal to track down the registered owner of the EPIRB.

With the lifeboat crew having used the signal to close in on an area of Felixstowe port, members of the marine department at Felixstowe went aboard vessels berthed there to check none of their EPIRBs had been accidentally activated.

While this was going on the Coastguard were tracing the registered owner of the distress beacon. It was finally traced to an organisation which had a shipment aboard one of the container ships, and was deemed the signal was coming from inside one of their containers.

After nearly three hours afloat the crew of five returned to station and made the lifeboat ready for its next service by 10:05pm.

The second service, and fifth of the month, came on the Sunday (30 January) when the volunteers were requested to launch the inshore lifeboat Tierney, Harvey, and Sonny Reid at 3:15pm to assist a paddle boarder reportedly in distress at the entrance to the River Deben.

Arriving on scene the volunteer crew of four found the paddle boarder enjoying the surf. A false alarm, but with good intentions - the volunteers of Harwich RNLI would rather be called out to a false alarm with good intent than have a life lost for not being called.

With the ever increasing popularity of water based activities such as paddle boarding, personal locator beacons (PLBs) are becoming more widespread, affordable, and compact, making them a good choice for use in an emergency.

The advice is to make sure you keep it attached to you, don’t forget to register them as they send a unique signal that can be used to trace the owner. If you ever accidentally set off your PLB don’t just turn it off, you will also need to call the Coastguard to let them know you are ok, and cancel any potential rescue operation.

RNLI media contacts

For more information, please contact:

Richard Wigley, RNLI Harwich volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer on 07903424698 or [email protected],

Clare Hopps, Regional Media Officer on 07824518641 or [email protected] 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.

Learn more about the RNLI

For more information please visit the RNLI website or Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. News releases, videos and photos are available on the News Centre.

Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries

Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 (UK) or 1800 991802 (Ireland) or by email.