Sunday, February 18, 2018

Shannon-class lifeboat“More people die from drowning at sea in the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland than from cycling accidents”, – one of the worrying facts I learned during a recent visit to RNLI headquarters. Another is that the World Health Organisation considers deaths by drowning to have reached “epidemic proportions”.

The RNLI aims to reduce these figures nationally and internationally by 50% before the year 2024. To see how this target can be achieved, and a host of other things, I arranged a visit to the Institution’s HQ at Poole.

On arrival in Poole, I was pleased to see that what had previously been a rather desolate area had changed dramatically and now a new supermarket occupied the area on the railway station side of the RNLI headquarters complex. I learned that in the future it will be possible to walk from the station along a footpath direct to the front door of the reception area with the need to cross only one road. Typically, this is in line with the RNLI’s aims to promote safety everywhere. With completion of a new All-weather Lifeboat (ALB) construction and repair facility, there are now four very impressive buildings in a modern “house style” in colour and in keeping with the RNLI.

At the public entrance to the RNLI College building, double doors open onto a spacious reception area where there are seats, papers and magazines. Beckoning is a souvenir shop staffed, of course, by volunteers. Here you can view and purchase a wide range of RNLI branded clothing, souvenirs and gifts both small and large which, in my case, included a very comfortable to use retractable ballpoint pen with which to make notes.

Whilst I was waiting in this area, I was interested to observe the hustle and bustle of eager, happy looking staff and visitors passing to and fro intent on their purposes. The whole place exuded the ethos of an efficient, effective, no nonsense organisation.

I was met by a member of the RNLI’s Press and Public Relations Office and accompanied across West Quay Road to the Sir William Hillary office building – the headquarters and powerhouse of the Institution. The accommodation there is now open-plan in style, divided into various sections. The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) occupies a corner of the top floor, the majority of which is occupied by the RNLI Operations Team. The old “Ops Room” I remembered from my last visit some six years previously has gone, but the information it contained has not. If anything, the information held has substantially increased. Now from continuously updated wall-mounted boards, the operational state of all RNLI stations and their lifeboats can be seen at a glance.

RNLI HQTHE LIFEBOATS
In five years time the current phase of ALB fleet modernisation will be complete with all boats capable of achieving 25 knots with an operational capacity of up to 100 miles from their base station. The hand-over of the rebuilt St David’s lifeboat station completes the current phase of incorporating the Tamar Class into the fleet.

THE CREWS
Beside the ongoing task of keeping the lifeboat fleet maintained and up to date with safer, faster and with better sea-going qualities, crews have to be found, recruited and trained. These days, 90% of lifeboat crew personnel no longer have a maritime background. At a lifeboat station, the first task is to gain assurance that potential volunteers have the necessary commitment in terms of their willingness to allocate their time and to undertake an intensive training regime. With this commitment, the new crew will start to assimilate knowledge and practical expertise, first of shore-based tasks then progressing to going afloat on exercises and eventually becoming competent lifeboat crew members. Assessment can then be made of their individual suitability for a specialist task be it engineering, navigation, radio or first aid etc. From my own experience of visiting lifeboat stations, there is a great deal of friendly competition amongst the volunteers to obtain the most qualifications.

The old ethos of always being able to undertake work that is above that of your present position still, fortunately, exists. Once those at the home station, the Coxswain, Local Operations Manager and Divisional Operations Manager are satisfied that the volunteer has the necessary commitment and experience they will recommend attendance at the RNLI College in Poole.

Survival Pool ENLISTING SUPPORT
At the College, courses are of varying lengths and cover all aspects of working with lifeboats including training for fund raising supporters from RNLI Branches.

The supporter’s side was not covered directly during my visit, but as a fund-raiser myself, I was able to pick up some useful information. Throughout the country, most RNLI branches have found difficulty in obtaining help from young people. One of the ways in which the RNLI has worked to remedy this situation has been to find and form teams of young people, possibly in a “gap year” or waiting to secure employment, and teach them to understand the RNLI, what it stands for, what it does and how it works. They are then sent out amongst the general public on busy beach days where they talk about the Institution and its’ aims and achievements and then try to encourage them to subscribe to the RNLI. In this they may or may not always be successful, but in the process they will pass on their knowledge to others of their age which, in turn, may generate interest in supporting the RNLI more actively. After all, the young are the future and we need their involvement for the continuation of the service.

ACCIDENT PREVENTION
On the fourth floor of the RNLI Headquarters building, is situated the Coastal Safety Intelligence Manager who studies and analyses all water related incidents around the UK and Republic of Ireland (ROI) and, in particular, those involving the services of the RNLI lifeboats and lifeguards. The RNLI’s aim is to reduce loss of life by drowning (excluding suicides) in the UK and ROI by 50% by the year 2024.

It has become clear that to achieve this will require a change in the attitude and behaviour of all persons engaging in activities involving water. For this reason, the issues and circumstances surrounding every single incident must be studied and understood before it is possible to provide answers and start the changes in culture.

One way forwards is through education and involvement of the public and water users in appropriate places eg, on beaches where there are established RNLI Beach Lifeguard Units deployed. The first message to get across is not necessarily “Don’t do it!”, but “Do it this way – it’s safer and you will be at less risk”. It is not claimed that this approach will prevent all accidents from occurring, but that it will make accidents less likely and easier to deal with when they do happen.

Local level landowners and local authorities are now encouraged to erect high visibility danger warning signs at known accident spots such as signs for cliff walkers in order to prevent them, or their animals, from falling over cliffs, or to prevent persons from becoming stranded by rising tides on some beaches.

Read the rest of this article with additional pictures in Sea Breezes Magazine - November 2015 Issue
Click here to subscribe

Subscribe Graphic

Latest Issue - Look Inside!

HMS Protector

Most Popular

  • Benefits of Shipping Power Station Parts by Sea +

  • Wrestling Gales +

  • New Patrol ship for Danes +

  • National Maritime Museum of Ireland +

  • Protests at Certificate for Bangladesh Yard +

  • 1
  • 2

Top 10 Books and DVDs 2017

Maritime Log

  • Benefits of Shipping Power Station Parts by Sea +

    Power Station Boiler Two new 110 tonnes heat exchangers to be used in refitting Centrica’s power station at King’s Lynn, arrived at the Read More
  • Container Ship Fleet Hits 21m Record +

    Port of Hamburg The world's cellular container ship fleet reached a record 21mn teu last November, according to the analysts Alphaliner. Read More
  • Bravery Awards for Pilots’ Actions +

    Michael G McGee and Michael C Phillips Two pilots who brought a burning ship to safety, averting a major maritime catastrophe, have been presented with the 2017 Read More
  • Mammoth Crane Vessel for Obsolete Platforms +

    OOS Zeelandia The Dutch OOS International Group BV has signed a contract with China Merchants Industry Holdings for the design and building Read More
  • Solar Power Boost +

    Immingham Port Associated British Ports (ABP) is to build a further 20MW of solar arrays making the company one of the biggest Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

North America

  • Ship Adrift in Port +

    Helsinki Bridge Port tugs and members of the US Coast Guard, the Massport Fire Department, Boston Police Department and the Massachusetts State Read More
  • Services Mark Four Chaplains Tragedy +

    Dorchester Services are being held in many communities in the United States this month to mark the 75th anniversary of the Read More
  • Fast Crew Supply Vessel Launched +

    FCS 7011 As part of its relationship with Damen Shipyards, of the Netherlands, the Louisiana-based shipbuilder Metal Shark is offering the new Read More
  • First Of Three Self-Unloaders Now In Service +

    Algoma Niagara The first of the Algoma Central Corporation’s three Equinox class selfunloading bulk carriers for the Great Lakes and the St Read More
  • Special US Frigate Makes Harbour Trip +

    USS Constitution The historic US frigate Constitution made a special trip to Charlestown, Massachusetts, on Oct 20 last to mark the ship’s Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Asia-Pacific

  • Protests at Certificate for Bangladesh Yard +

    Chittagong Shipbreaking Trade Unions and non-government organisations have protested following the move by the Italian classification society RINA to issue the PHP Read More
  • Automated Port Tested +

    Yangshan Deepwater Port Trial operations have begun at the world’s biggest automated container terminal at Shanghai, China. Read More
  • MHI Splits Into Two +

    MHI Nagasaki Shipyard The Japanese company Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) has established two new wholly-owned companies in a major reorganisation of its shipbuilding Read More
  • Fifth Is A First For Japan +

    MOL Truth The first Japanese-built 20,170 teu container ship was named MOL Truth at a ceremony on Oct 25 at the Imabari Read More
  • Sheep Ban After Ship Fails Safety Checks +

    Al Messilah A livestock carrier lost her licence to carry sheep from Australia after failing port state control checks at a livestock Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Naval Focus

  • New Patrol ship for Danes +

    HDMS Lauge Koch Danish News On 11 December, in a ceremony held at Naval Station Korsør, the Royal Danish Navy commissioned the third Read More
  • Royal Navy ‘Cannibalising’ Ships for Parts +

    HMS Artful UK News Once again, the Royal Navy was in the headlines for all the wrong reasons in the closing months Read More
  • New Oiler for Canada +

    Asterix Canadian News The Royal Canadian Navy’s long wait for a new replenishment oiler for the fleet is nearly at an Read More
  • HMS Queen Elizabeth Arrives at Home Port +

    HMS Queen Elizabeth British News An event following the 2010 Defence Review many thought would never happen occurred on Wednesday 16 August when Read More
  • Work Starts on Three Warships +

    Type 25 British News After an almost unseemly wait, the Royal Navy can breathe again having held its breath waiting for the Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Ferry World

  • Lake Cruising +

    Western Belle In the English Lake District, on several of the Lakes, there are lake operations all year round. Read More
  • Wrestling Gales +

    Pride of Kent The sight of the familiar P&O ferry Pride of Kent blown aground while leaving Calais for Dover, is a shock. Read More
  • Indonesian Focus +

    Doro Landa To the Far East – PELNI (Pelayaran Nasional Indonesia) is Indonesia’s national shipping company, state-owned and operated, serving the entire Indonesian Read More
  • New FSG Builds +

    WB Yeats Readers will recall Flensburger Schiffbau-Gesellschaft (FSG), delivered the Ullapool-Stornaway ship Loch Seaforth to CalMac in late 2014, as well as Read More
  • Nostalgic Scout Trip Remembered +

    South Shields Scouts A morale boosting and nostalgic story from not long after WW2 came to my notice. Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Sail Review/Coastal Comment

  • Pickle +

    Pickle After the Battle of Trafalgar and the death of Nelson in 1805, the Royal Navy sent their fast schooner Pickle Read More
  • Cargo by Sail +

    Tres Hombres and Morgenster At the beginning of October the brigantine Tres Hombres sailed from Den Helder, North Holland, to Zaandam, Amsterdam before beginning Read More
  • From Rix To Stevie Clarkes +

    “Ronrix” leaving for Hull The name Rix is long associated with Humber ports with origins traced to Hull businessman Captain Robert Rix in the Read More
  • Energy Needs +

    Northern Ocean Charlie McCurdy’s fine image of the Faeroese products tanker Northern Ocean 8,594,’98 passing Greenock, on her way from the fuel Read More
  • Staple Trades - Clay +

    Moelfre Rose Before leaving the economically confused days of 2017, I thought I would remind ourselves of some of the staple trades Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

From the Lookout

  • International Salvage Union: Challenging Times +

    Costa Concordia The International Salvage Union (ISU) is the global trade association representing marine salvors, its members provide essential services to the Read More
  • Hunterston Port Secures Energy Decommissioning Investment +

    Hunterston Port Hunterston Port and Resource Centre (PARC) in Ayrshire has been awarded grant funding from the Scottish Government that could pave Read More
  • British Antarctic Territory – Royal Research Ships +

    British Antartic Ships Stamps One of the good news stories of 2016 was that, against strong international competition, the famous Merseyside shipbuilding company, Cammell Read More
  • MV Glen Sannox, The UK’s First LNG Ferry +

    MV Glen Sannox Tuesday 21st November 2017 marked a very special occasion when Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon launched the UK's first LNG Read More
  • P&O Report Strong Larne-Cairnryan Freight Demand +

    European Causeway Having spent over twenty years in shipping operations between Loch Ryan (South West Scotland) and Northern Ireland, I still take Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Cruise News/Superyacht News

  • Innovative Itineraries That Make The Difference +

    Scenic Eclipse Whilst it is true that the majority of new cruise vessels emerging from the world’s shipyards fit into the category Read More
  • Hamburg Highlights its Harbour and Cruise Callers +

    Grand Hamburg Cruise Days Parade There are a number of ports around the globe who promote and celebrate their harbours on a fairly regular basis. Read More
  • Pedal to the Metal? +

    Norwegian Bliss NCL has announced that their new build, the Norwegian Bliss, the company’s 16th ship, is set to launch in June Read More
  • Classic with a Twist +

    Project 697 Reminiscent of the beautiful Aurora B dating from 1992, the newly launched 47-metre and somewhat secretive Project 697 from Feadship Read More
  • Rolls-Royce Unveils Hybrid Propulsion Yacht +

    Crystal Blue Rolls-Royce has unveiled a groundbreaking luxury yacht concept designed to showcase the advantages of advanced ship intelligence solutions, and hybrid Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Ships, Ports and Places

National Maritime Museum of Ireland Interior

National Maritime Museum of Ireland

The National Maritime Museum of Ireland is located in Dun Laoghaire, County Dublin. It is housed in the 180-year-old Mariners Read More
Loch Morar

Empire Ships - An Early Experience

During World War Two, the losses of Britain’s merchant ships rapidly overtook their replacement rate, either from new construction, or Read More
  • 1
  • 2

Companies, Events and Other Features

Endeavour

Clews, Bunts & Reefs

With celebrations being planned next year for the 250 year commemoration of Captain Cook’s first landfall in New Zealand, I Read More
Encounter Bay

Shipping Services between Europe & Australia

In 2019 we will mark the 50th Anniversary of the arrival of the first oceangoing container ship, the Overseas Containers Read More
  • 1
  • 2