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Hartlepool lifeboat capsize 30th anniversary

Lifeboats News Release

The 28 February 2023 marks the 30th anniversary of the Hartlepool RNLI lifeboat The Scout capsizing twice whilst on service to the 97,000 ton tanker Freja Svea which was dragging its anchor and eventually run aground in severe gale force winds off Redcar.

RNLI/Tom Collins

Hartlepool RNLI coxswain Robbie Maiden.
The lifeboat had originally launched to escort the Teesmouth lifeboat back to the lifeboat station on the South Gare after it had lost the use of one of its engines and then to takeover standby duty near the tanker.

Fortunately the lifeboat was designed to self-right and did so within seconds on both occasions. The crew onboard suffered minor injuries but crewmember 26- year-old Robbie Maiden was washed overboard and spent 35 minutes in the sea before being rescued by an RAF search and rescue helicopter.

Robbie Maiden is now the coxswain of the Hartlepool RNLI lifeboat and vividly remembers the incident: 'When I got washed over it took several moments to get stabilised in the water on first glance round I couldn't see the lifeboat or any sign of it. The waves were 35-40ft tall so when there's only your head sticking out the water there's not a lot you can see.

'What I didn't realise at the time the lifeboat had suffered a second capsize. The first time we capsized we pitch poled which is when the bow goes over the stern the second time when the engines stopped which is what they are designed to do the next wave hit the lifeboat beam on and rolled it over a second time so the lifeboat crew had to sort themselves out again and this is when they realised I was missing.

'As the lifeboat's radio and aerials were damaged they used a hand held vhf radio to put a mayday call out and began searching for me. Luckily for me an RAF Sea King search and rescue helicopter from RAF Leconfield had earlier landed on the beach at Redcar as part of the operation to remove crew from the stranded tanker. So within 10-15 minutes the helicopter was scrambled to search for me. They actually spotted the life raft from the lifeboat first and then found me nearby.

'The winch man was lowered down and swam across to me, put a strop over me and we were winched up into the helicopter. It was at this point I blacked out due to the effect of hydrostatic squeeze and the next thing I remember was waking up in the ambulance on the way to Middlesbrough hospital.

'The all-weather lifeboat and crew then made their way into the shelter of the River Tees and moored up. Fortunately I was wearing my PPE and without a doubt it probably saved my life that day.

'The RNLI provides its volunteers with the best kit available and its just the same now. It all still seems like yesterday. It seems strange, like a blink of an eye that thirty years has gone past but proudly here we are today as RNLI volunteers on call 24/7 playing our part in saving lives at sea.'

RNLI Media contacts
For more information please contact Tom Collins, RNLI volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer on: 07896793557 or email: [email protected]

RNLI/Tom Collins

The 97,000 ton tanker 'Freja Svea' pictured off Redcar.

RNLI/Tom Collins

Robbie Maiden (bottom right) pictured with fellow crewmembers (back row left to right) Peter Lamb, Ian Maiden, Richard Doughty, Ian Galbraith, Tommy Price and coxswain Eric Reeve(bottom left). Not pictured Gary Jamieson.

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.