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Gravesend RNLI divert from exercise to broken down hovercraft

Lifeboats News Release

At 2:57pm on August 9 Gravesend’s lifeboat 'Olive Laura Deare II' launched to assist a hovercraft that had lost power and was at risk of making contact with a busy commercial jetty in Dagenham.

Two RNLI lifeboat volunteers looking at hovercraft in distress.


Gravesend RNLI notice the broken down hovercraft

The lifeboat was crewed by three volunteers and RNLI Thames Commander Liam Sidders.

Liam said, ‘we were conducting an exercise on the River Thames at Halfway Reach and spotted two hovercrafts on our transit into east London, we slowed the lifeboat and monitored as we noticed one to be having trouble with propulsion and then the pilot waved us down for urgent assistance’.

‘They were very lucky we happened to be passing at the time we did, as the craft had lost all power, starting to take on water and was very close to being pushed under the jetty by the tide, this could have ended very differently if my crew didn’t act swiftly and effortlessly to conduct the rescue’.

To prevent further danger on the busy tidal Thames, for safety reasons Gravesend RNLI then took the hovercraft under tow to Erith Yacht Club, where RNLI volunteer Ashley Bard was put ashore to help with the safe recovery of the hovercraft and perform a verbal welfare check on the pilot.

Gravesend RNLI were then stood down by HM Coastguard at 3:39pm and continued on exercise.

RNLI Media Contacts

For further information, please contact:

Ashley Bard, Volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer for Gravesend RNLI email [email protected]

Paul Dunt, Regional Media Officer (London and South East), on 07785 296 252 or email [email protected]

Julie Rainey, Regional Media Manager (South East), on 07827 358 256 or email [email protected]

Gravesend RNLI setting up tow onto red hovercraft


Gravesend RNLI setting up tow onto hovercraft
A photo of the Atlantic 85's stern with the hovercraft in tow in the distance.


Hovercraft under tow from the Atlantic 85 Lifeboat
A photo of the Atlantic 85's stern with crew onboard and the hovercraft in tow in the distance


Hovercraft under tow from the RNLI Lifeboat with crew

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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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