Lifeboat takes a well-earned week-long break after busy summer
- Credit: KYLE BAKER
This autumn saw the Sidmouth Lifeboat undergo a week’s routine maintenance.
The fully modernised Arctic 24 rigid inflatable lifeboat (RIB) was built in Portsmouth and delivered by BAE Systems in summer 2019. The lifeboat revisited Portsmouth Naval Base this September for a planned one-week routine maintenance session.
The work was overseen by Stephanie Russell, Assistant Project Manager at BAE Systems’ Maritime Services, who also worked on the construction of the first Sidmouth boat. Stephanie has only recently returned to work full-time after three years following a severe stroke. She said: “This project means a lot to me and it is great to be back working with this fantastic team…who not only designed and built the sea boat from scratch, but who also carry out the maintenance that ensures that the vessel is able to carry out its vital duties in all types of challenging weather conditions.”
Sidmouth is always a popular resort. But, this year, a combination of record-breaking temperatures and a temporary relaxation of Covid-19 restrictions, made it busier than ever.
For Sidmouth Independent Lifeboat, it meant a demanding time for the team of volunteers who are on call 24hrs a day, 365 days a year, responding to search and rescue calls from HM Coastguard. In the last 18 months, the crew have responded to 30 callouts, assisted 22 people and saved two lives, with half of those callouts occurring between May and October this year.
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Ian Fletcher, one of the Sidmouth Independent Lifeboat volunteers said: “It’s a rewarding job working as a volunteer…The next-generation lifeboat has a more powerful engine and a new camera and GPS navigation equipment and means that we can respond swiftly to search and rescue duties. After a busy summer period and following her routine maintenance, the lifeboat is geared up for future emergency callouts.” Ian joined in May 2014 to maintain his nautical skills after leaving the Royal Navy, having completed 17 years of service.
For further information on the work of the lifeboat and on how to donate money towards the service, visit https://sidmouthlifeboat.org.uk.
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