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Fowey RNLI lifeboat crew carry out night search for distress signal

Lifeboats News Release

On Saturday (23 July) Fowey RNLI lifeboat crew were paged in the middle of the night by the coastguard who requested that they search an area from Gribbin Head to Dodman to try and locate a personal locator beacon (PLB) that had been activated.

Fowey RNLI

Fowey's XP boat ready to be launched from the all-weather lifeboat

A PLB is a personal electronic transmitting device that is designed to alert potential rescuers to a life-threatening situation, for example a man overboard. The coastguard had previously been alerted to the same PLB earlier on Friday in a different location. On this occasion when the PLB was activated, Falmouth coastguard received a signal indicating it was somewhere in St Austell bay.

Fowey all-weather lifeboat was launched at 12.35am with eight crew onboard and the search commenced from the Gribbin. The crew were asked to use the Direction Finder on the lifeboat to try and locate where the PLB signal was coming from. During the search the small XP boat was launched off the lifeboat to Silver mines to investigate a kayak, but this was not the source of the distress signal. The search continued to Vault beach and then went back round the bay 0.9 Nm of the previous track.

PLBs can be activated in error, when being tested, or in an emergency, and are a key safety device. All PLBs must be registered with the coastguard and registration details kept up-to-date. If a PLB is set off in error always tell the coastguard so they don’t launch a rescue mission.

After an extensive search lasting over four hours nothing was located so the coastguard stood the lifeboat crew down, with the lifeboat finally arriving back in Fowey harbour at 5.30am in the morning.

Having had little or no sleep, many of the volunteer crew were back on duty later that morning to help set up and run Fowey’s annual lifeboat day.

Fowey RNLI

Night search lights being used in the search

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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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.