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Massive Congratulations to Appledore RNLI’s two Robs – Rob Ward and Rob Hawkins

Lifeboats News Release

Sailing through external assessments on Monday 31 July, two volunteer Appledore RNLI crew members were fully passed out, Robbie Ward as a Tamar all-weather boat mechanic, and Rob Hawkins as a launch and recovery driver for the County Tractor, used to launch the B class inshore lifeboat.

Rob Hawkins, Appledore RNLI's most recently qualified County Tractor launch and recovery driver smiling in front of an RNLI tractor

RNLI/Niki Tait

Rob Hawkins, Appledore RNLI's most recently qualified County Tractor launch and recovery driver
A Tamar all-weather boat mechanic is responsible for the lifeboat’s engines and equipment ensuring that the lifeboat is always ready for service in first class condition and remains operational throughout an emergency shout or exercise. So much training, both at Appledore and at our main training centre at the RNLI headquarters at Poole, are required to reach the required standard, which, for the final pass out, is externally assessed on board the Lifeboat.

This assessment covers every emergency procedure related to the engine and the Systems and Information Management System (SIMS), an electronic integrated bridge system that allows the crew to monitor, operate and control many of the lifeboat’s functions directly from their seats. These include the navigation of the lifeboat, including direction finding, radar and charting; radio communications and CCTV; and the mechanics of the lifeboat including the engines, bilge and electrics.

The practical assessment includes fault finding, emergency procedures, salvage and fire pumps, start up and close down, bilge system, emergency throttles and steering, single engine running and much else, and to make his assessment even more challenging, both a fire and Man Overboard drill was also thrown in.

Without a qualified mechanic on board, no all-weather lifeboat can launch.

The same day Rob Hawkins was externally assessed for his pass out as a launch and recovery driver for the County Tractor. This means Rob is now fully qualified to launch and recover Appledore RNLI’s B class inshore lifeboat in all states of tide, weather and conditions, day and night. Again, after months of training and practise, Rob had to prove his capability given all sorts of scenarios.

Without a fully qualified tractor driver present, the lifeboat cannot be launched.

Bob Meller, Appledore RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager says: ‘Both Robs have worked long and hard for their pass outs and these are extremely well deserved. We congratulate both of them and thank them for their commitment to this voluntary service. But we also thank the public. We are a charity, totally independent of any government funding so we rely on public donations, fundraising and legacies to be able to run the lifeboat service, our lifeboats and provide the top level of training to our volunteers to help us save lives at sea’.

Rob Hawkins in front of Country Tractor, Rob Ward on all weather lifeboat

RNLI/Appledore RNLI

Appledore RNLI volunteer crew member Robbie Ward passes out as a Tamar Mechanic

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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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.