The RNLI this week announced changes to lifeboat stations in the North East and Scottish Borders following an extensive review of the area to ensure the charity continues to provide the most effective life-saving service to the public.
Under proposals approved by the charity’s trustees, an inshore lifeboat will be added this year to Eyemouth in Scotland and the lifeboat station at neighbouring St Abbs will be closed. In Northumberland, the RNLI has plans to put new state-of-the-art Shannon-class lifeboats at Seahouses and Amble over the next three years as part of the fleet’s modernisation programme.
This means that the older 16-knot Mersey-class all-weather lifeboat at Berwick will not need to be replaced at the end of its operational life in 2018. Further down the coast, a second, faster inshore lifeboat will be added to Blyth.
George Rawlinson, RNLI operations director, said: “Our charity’s priority is to save lives at sea and by conducting regular reviews of lifeboat cover around our coastline, we can ensure we provide the best possible search and rescue service while making the most appropriate use of our supporters’ donations.”
The region will continue to be well covered by all-weather lifeboats following the removal of Berwick’s Mersey-class lifeboat at the end of its operational life.
Cover will be provided by new 25-knot all-weather lifeboats at Amble and Seahouses, which are planned to be in place by 2018, and a 25-knot Trent-class all-weather lifeboat already based at Eyemouth. These three all-weather lifeboats will be complemented by five inshore lifeboats at Eyemouth, Berwick, Seahouses, Craster and Amble.
At Berwick, the all-weather Mersey class lifeboat, which will soon come to the end of its operational life, will be removed in 2018 once new, faster Shannon-class lifeboats have been stationed along the coast at Seahouses and Amble.
The RNLI will also consider whether to place an additional Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat at Berwick in addition to the station’s existing D class lifeboat.
At Blyth, an Atlantic 85 lifeboat will be placed on a two-year trial to operate alongside the lifeboat station’s current D-class lifeboat. Blyth, with its deep-water harbour, is well located to meet an expected increase in demand from sports, recreational and leisure marine users in that area.
Also, the development of the waterfront and harbour area at Blyth may generate additional beach and coastal incidents. The wider impact of these changes on life-saving provision on this area will be reviewed at the end of the trial in 2017. Mr Rawlinson added: “The RNLI has evolved continually over its 191-year history to ensure that public safety is at the forefront of everything we do. These latest changes are part of our charity’s commitment to save lives at sea.”