Walmer RNLI launches to assist in multi-agency search

Lifeboats News Release

Walmer’s Atlantic 85 Donald McLauchlan launched at 10.40 am today, 4 May alongside Dover lifeboat’s Severn Class all-weather lifeboat to a report of a vessel drifting mid-Channel.

RNLI/Christopher Winslade

A multi-agency operation involving lifeboats from Walmer and Dover along with HM Coastguard and a Royal Naval helicopter conducted the search in the traffic separation zone around The Varne light vessel some 11 to 12 miles off Dover Harbour. Such was the urgency, the Coastguard put out a direct paging straight to crew which was followed up by an enquiry from Walmer’s DLA (Deputy Launching Authority).

The initial report had been received from the cross-Channel ferry ‘Spirit of Britain’ which also launched its fast craft to assist with the search.

Coastguard had issued a Pan Pan ‘urgent situation’ warning to vessels transiting the Dover Straits. The vessel was spotted by the naval helicopter which hovered above the casualty until the lifeboats arrived on scene. On arrival crews discovered a grey hulled, semi-submerged dinghy about two-and-a-half metres long which seemed to have been in the water for some time.

A search carried out by Dover lifeboat had discovered no casualties. Due to the condition of the dinghy, neither lifeboat was able to take it under tow. Walmer’s lifeboat arrived back on station at 12.45 pm.

The incident marked a ‘double first’ for two of Walmer’s crew, with a first emergency paging for crew member Lewis Monks and a first as a qualified launch and recovery tractor driver for Caleb Ward.


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 alongside casualty

Photo 2 Dover lifeboat and Royal Naval helicopter

RNLI media contacts

  • Chris Winslade, Lifeboat Press Officer, Walmer Lifeboat Station on 01304 374475 or 07906 623037 [email protected]
  • For enquiries outside normal business hours, contact the RNLI duty press officer on 01202 336789


RNLI/Christopher Winslade

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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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