Buckie Lifeboat, this is no longer a drill!

Lifeboats News Release

Buckie Lifeboat was today re-tasked by HM Coastguard from a routine training exercise to a very real search for an Electronic Position-Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) which was transmitting a distress signal in the Moray Firth.

A vessel-mounted Electronic Position-Indicating Radio Beacon like the example illustrated is designed, should the vessel sink, to automatically detach itself, float, and begin transmitting the vessels identity and position on radio distress frequencies. It can then be homed in on by lifeboats and other search and rescue assets.
A vessel-mounted Electronic Position-Indicating Radio Beacon like the example illustrated is designed, should the vessel sink, to automatically detach itself, float, and begin transmitting the vessels identity and position on radio distress frequencies. It can then be homed in on by lifeboats and other search and rescue assets.

Coxswain Gavin Hyne had put to sea with a crew including trainees, briefed to practice use of the emergency throttles, capsize procedures and vessel towing. Barely had the exercise begun when the new tasking came in and, for the two trainees, their first ‘shout’ was on.

The station’s Severn-class, William Blannin, was 1.5nm off Findochty and the EPIRB was reported ‘west of Buckie’. En route to the search area, the coxswain briefed for a radio search using direction finding (RDF) equipment, but the signal was weak and intermittent, so he re-briefed for a combined visual sector (grid) search and RDF search.

The RDF contact remained intermittent and weak but, as the lifeboat drew closer and the search narrowed, a strong signal was finally detected and homed upon. The EPIRB was taken aboard, de-activated and returned to Buckie. Investigation showed it had accidentally become dislodged from its stowage on a local vessel which had put to sea at almost the same time as the lifeboat, so the EPIRB was returned to its grateful owners.

Coxswain Hyne said of the service “This was a valuable opportunity for newer crew members to put into practice some of the skills they had only seen in shore briefing. The crew switched from training to operational mode in seconds and delivered a highly professional service. Had this EPIRB been indicating a genuine vessel in distress, today’s performance showed that our combined radio and visual searches would have quickly located the casualty.”

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.

Learn more about the RNLI

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.