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RNLI Dover and Dungeness launch to assist UK Coastguard in major incident

Lifeboats News Release

Volunteer crew of the Dover and Dungeness all-weather lifeboats, City of London II and the Morrell, were requested to launch at 8.50am on Sunday 20 November

The UK Coastguard had received a report that a cargo vessel had collided with a stone barge three miles south west of Dover.

Two Coastguard search and rescue helicopters were also in attendance to the vessel which had reported engine and steering failure. It had also damaged its hull in the collision with the rock barge and had started taking on water as a result.

The challenging weather conditions meant the cargo vessel had drifted onto the Varne Bank with 23 people on board.

Both RNLI lifeboats were closely monitoring the situation out on the water and were ready to assist when required as the Coastguard helicopter evacuated crew from on board the vessel and took them to Dover.

The UK Coastguard co-ordinated the rescue efforts with 11 of the 23 people on board being winched off and taken to Dover. The remaining 12 are working towards getting the vessel moving with the aid of a tug.

RNLI Dover, Deputy 2nd Coxswain Robert Bendhiaf, said:

'Facing Force 11-12 weather conditions today was one of the biggest jobs for myself as one of the youngest coxswains Dover lifeboat station has historically had. I'm very proud of all the RNLI volunteer crew members I had on board with me for maintaining a calm and professional manner in such rough seas during today's operation. It's not often we work alongside multi agencies but today showed how well our RNLI lifeboat stations can operate with each other and other SAR units.”

RNLI Dover was stood down at 1.50pm and RNLI Dungeness at 3.39pm. The cargo vessel is now in a safe anchorage at Dungeness.

RNLI crewman Mark Hamilton

RNLI crewman Mark Hamilton

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The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates over 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.

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