New lifeboat yet to be trialled by crew

A stand-off between Arbroath’s lifeboat crew and the RNLI is continuing as the town’s new lifeboat has yet to be trialled, two weeks after its arrival.

Mark Dowie
Tuesday, 4th July 2023, 12:00pm
New lifeboat yet to be trialled by crew

An Atlantic 85 rigid inflatable was delivered to Arbroath last month, the model allocated to the local station under a controversial coastal review.

It will eventually replace the station’s ageing all-weather Mersey-class lifeboat Inchcape. Under the review, a new state of the art Shannon-class lifeboat will be stationed at Broughty Ferry rather than Arbroath as had been expected.

The crew members had also previously passed on the chance to go aboard a similar vessel kept at the Stonehaven station, with no-one taking up the offer to try it out.

And while both of the station’s current vessels – the Inchcape and the D class inshore lifeboat – took part in lifesaving demonstrations at the recent annual Lifeboat Day, the Atlantic was left tied up alongside at the harbour.

The crisis also deepened recently with the sacking of the station’s long-serving operations manager Alex Smith, who has been outspoken in his criticism of the decision, and other personnel.

Mr Smith, who has served more than 20 years volunteering for the charity – has said that despite its undoubted capabilities, the Atlantic 85 is not the right boat for Arbroath.

And a petition set up on website seeking to have the decision reversed has so far attracted 5190 signatures.

The RNLI, however, has said that cover will be boosted by all-weather Shannon lifeboats at Montrose and Broughty Ferry. Montrose became the first Scottish station to receive the £2m-plus water jet-powered Shannon in 2015.

An RNLI spokesperson said: “Work is ongoing with our training and operations team, and with the volunteer crew in Arbroath, on the Atlantic 85 familiarisation programme.

“Our teams are working on an implementation plan for the introduction of Shannon-class lifeboat in Broughty Ferry. We are examining all that needs to be done for the lifeboat’s arrival but do not anticipate any change or implementation in the short-term.”

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