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Gravesend RNLI volunteer progresses through the ranks

Lifeboats News Release

On Thursday 2 November volunteer Charlotte demonstrated her search & rescue skills and passed out into 'Seat Two'

Volunteer Charlotte standing in her lifeboat yellows and red lifejacket


Volunteer Charlotte standing in her lifeboat yellows
Charlotte joined the crew sixteen months ago, although that seems relativity recent, she has volunteered over 720 hours of her time this year alone to help save lives at sea and in total has spent 180 hours on the water.

Thames Commander Connor Edwards said, 'As part of today's pass out, it included a scenario of a vessel hitting a pier and taking on water. Charlotte was tasked with operating the salvage pump to empty the vessel then setting up a tow to take them to the nearest safe haven, after this we then put her driving skills to the test, performing MOB drills during stormy conditions. Charlotte passed all this with no issues.'

Although there are four seats on board our B Class Atlantic 85 Olive Laura Deare II, each individual seat plays a vital role, many hours of training goes into developing the skill set to progress between seats all the way up to Commander.

Before any persons become sea-going crew, they must achieve many land-based units, this is everything from PPE, search and rescue unit layout, rope work, launch & recovery and lookout.

Seat Four

Seat four is situated at the stern of the vessel, this role is vital to the lifeboat, a key observation role across all crew in front of them along with the perfect view for collision avoidance to the stern of the boat. Most volunteers will start in this position whilst taking on guidance from other crew members, whilst at all times communicating via the on board microphone system, when tasked to a job they will assist in anyway asked by the Commander.

Seat Three

Seat three is deemed the 'radar seat'. Although they have access to everything seat two has, this is primarily the role of radar, a hugely important asset to the lifeboat, even more so at night - a tool to avoid collision and to detect other vessels.

Also this seat carries the responsibility of radio work on VHF and Airwave. Volunteers in this role are also trained and ready to aid anchoring, veering, towing, mooring & berthing and a good understanding of local knowledge.

Seat Two

Continuing all knowledge from seat three, seat two is deemed the 'navigation seat'. Using RNLI's SIMs, volunteers in this seat are responsible for plotting a safe route and keeping the helm in safe waters. A greater local knowledge is expected of those in seat two along with boat handling skills.


Those who are signed off in the position of seat two are able to helm the boat. This means the driver of the boat.
Aided by the crew mates sat behind you, you're able to get to the job quickly and safely.


Unlike coastal stations, on the River Thames it's the role of the Commander to have overall duty and responsibility of their crew.

With expert SAR capabilities and exceptional river knowledge, the commander will lead the search & rescue operation and carry out all shift change morning briefings (SMEAC) and debriefings, as well as assign their crew duties for each shift.

Each Commander will position themselves in a different seat depending on what they prefer and that days duty crew.

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]

RNLI Press Office on 01202 336789 or email [email protected]

RNLI online

For more information on the RNLI please visit News releases and other media resources, including RSS feeds, downloadable photos and video, are available at the RNLI News Centre

Key facts about Gravesend RNLI

Gravesend RNLI is one of the RNLI’s newest lifeboat stations and one of four lifeboat stations operating on the River Thames. The first stations to specifically cover a river rather than estuarial waters or the sea.
Four Gravesend crew members on board lifeboat Olive Laura Deare II

Tom Duff

Four Gravesend crew members on board lifeboat Olive Laura Deare II
Charlotte driving the lifeboat during stormy conditions


Charlotte helming the lifeboat during Storm Ciarán

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.