Berwick lifeboat gets a three-year reprieve

Berwick lifeboat on the slipway after returning from a 'shout'. Picture by Alan HughesBerwick lifeboat on the slipway after returning from a 'shout'. Picture by Alan Hughes
Berwick lifeboat on the slipway after returning from a 'shout'. Picture by Alan Hughes
Berwick's all-weather lifeboat, which was due to be taken away from the station next year, has been granted a stay of execution.

In 2015, the RNLI announced the 16-knot Mersey-class lifeboat would be removed when it came to the end of its operational life in 2018.

Cover was to have been provided by a new 25-knot Shannon class all-weather lifeboats at Seahouses and Amble and a 25-knot Trent class all-weather lifeboat at Eyemouth.

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An Atlantic 85, the fastest sea-going RNLI lifeboat and the first RNLI inshore lifeboat to have radar, which means it can operate more effectively in reduced visibility, was under consideration for Berwick.

However, that decision has now been reviewed by the RNLI which has resulted in a decision to keep The Joy and Charles Beeby at Carr Rock until 2020/21.

In a letter to Berwick lifeboat station, George Rawlinson, RNLI operations director, said: “Further consideration was given to that recommendation by Community Lifesaving and a revised timescale submitted to the operations committee in March 2016.

“Subsequently, I can confirm that the current plan shows your Mersey-class ALB being withdrawn from service in 2020/21, three years later than originally planned.

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“In the meantime, we do need to progress the proposed provision of a co-located B class ILB (inshore lifeboat) that would also have to be agreed by the executive team, operations committee and trustees.”

The news has been warmly welcomed by Berwick lifeboat crew and staff.

Brian Cowan, Berwick’s operations manager, said: “It’s very good news. We feel Berwick has a distinct advantage in that there are no tidal restrictions to launching the all-weather lifeboat and we still hope the RNLI will take that into account when it has to make another decision in 2021.”

The RNLI’s original announcement was made following an extensive review of the charity’s portfolio in north Northumberland and the Scottish Borders.

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This acknowledged that the traditional pattern of sea use has changed greatly over the years. Commercial fishing has declined in many areas and leisure activities are on the rise.

The RNLI felt that taking advantage of the greater speed and capabilities of modern RNLI lifeboats would help meet current and future requirements and ensure public safety is not put at risk or compromised.

The Joy and Charles Beeby has been stationed at Berwick since 1993.

The Shannon class is the first modern all-weather lifeboat propelled by waterjets instead of propellers.

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