Lifeboat crews had busiest year ever

By Mark HeathLIFEBOAT crews battled through their busiest year in 2003, launching more times and saving more lives than ever before.Rescue statistics released today showed Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) crews launched a record 8,047 times last year and rescued 7,815 people - an average of 21 people a day.

By Mark Heath

LIFEBOAT crews battled through their busiest year in 2003, launching more times and saving more lives than ever before.

Rescue statistics released today showed Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) crews launched a record 8,047 times last year and rescued 7,815 people - an average of 21 people a day.

Harwich was the busiest station in East Anglia, with its two boats launching 100 times and rescuing 121 people - 35 more than in 2002.

Clacton followed with 55 launches and 43 rescues, while West Mersea launched 47 times, saving 76 people.

Meanwhile, the Walton and Frinton station was also busier than in 2002, launching 27 times and carrying out 34 rescues.

Most Read

In Suffolk, Aldeburgh's two-boat station was called into action the most in 2003, launching 20 times and rescuing nine people.

Southwold launched 17 times and saved 11 people, while Lowestoft's all-weather boat was called out 18 times, rescuing 24 people.

Nationally the busiest station was Poole in Dorset, which sent out its two boats 175 times, resulting in the rescue of 190 people.

RNLI operations director, Michael Vlasto, said: “The total number of lifeboat launches has increased year on year since 1986, making the 2003 figure more than double the 1986 total of 3,724.

“We believe this trend is due to a number of factors, such as the changing patterns of sea use by the public, improved search and rescue techniques, the dramatic growth in the use of mobile telephones among the public and particularly for 2003, the long, hot summer.”

He added: “We would not be able to respond to this increased demand without the dedication of our volunteer lifeboat crews, the station personnel who support them and our network of tireless fundraisers.

“Also, we should not forget the public for, in its 180th year, the RNLI continues to rely on voluntary donations and legacies to carry out its life-saving work.”

mark.heath@eadt.co.uk

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter