The training exercise was halted shortly after 10:30am when volunteers on-board both of the charity’s inshore lifeboats were requested to divert to attend an incident at Hendon, where a car had been reported as being on rocks at base of cliffs.
As well as the two inshore lifeboats, a shore based Coastguard Rescue team from Sunderland was also tasked to attend the incident.
The volunteer crew arrived to find the car on rocks on the beach close to southern end of Hendon Promenade. To allow an inspection of the car to take place a volunteer was put ashore to check if persons were inside the vehicle.
The inspection confirmed that no persons were in the vehicle which was later confirmed by Police as being reported stolen a week earlier.
Shortly after 11am the lifeboat volunteers and the other emergency services were cleared to stand down from the incident.
Paul Nicholson, Helmsman at Sunderland RNLI said: ‘On arrival our first priority was to confirm if any persons were trapped inside the vehicle. Unfortunately due to the location of the car combined with the swell, it was necessary for one of our volunteers to swim ashore to carry out a close up check of the vehicle. Thankfully we discovered the car was empty and no persons were in danger’.
The second call came shortly after 1:10pm as volunteers were arriving home from the earlier training exercise and incident. Coastguard Officers based at Humber Coastguard Marine Rescue Coordination Centre had received an emergency telephone call from the crew of a vessel stating that they had broken down and was being pushed against the inside of Roker Pier by the wind.
Officers immediately contacted Sunderland RNLI to request the launch of their Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat Wolseley. A shore based Coast Response Team from Sunderland Coastguard station was also tasked to the scene to assist.
The lifeboat launched seven minutes later under the command of Helmsman Sam Clow with three other volunteer crew.
On arrival the volunteers found the stricken boat being pushed against the pier by the wind and waves running along the inside of the pier.
A line was quickly attached to the boat to pull it clear of the pier and into safer waters where a full tow was then established.
The vessel and its crew (three adult males) were taken in tow and returned to Sunderland Marina slipway.
Paul added: ‘This incident goes to show how quickly a simple breakdown can escalate into something far more serious. Thankfully our colleagues from the local Coastguard were on scene quickly and were able to pass down additional lifejackets and ropes to try and stabilise the vessel until we arrived.’
As a registered charity the RNLI relies on voluntary donations and legacies from the public for its income.
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Notes to editors
• Sunderland RNLI Lifeboat Station is the oldest continually operation lifeboat in the United Kingdom. It was originally opened in 1800 before being adopted by the RNLI in 1865.
• Sunderland RNLI Lifeboat Station operates its own website www.rnlisunderland.org where supporters can keep up to date with station specific activities.
• Sunderland RNLI Lifeboat Station has a profile on Twitter (SunderlandRNLI) and Facebook (RNLI Sunderland) where supporters can keep up to date with station specific activities and news.
• Sunderland RNLI Lifeboat Station operates two inshore type lifeboats: An Atlantic 85 8.3m inflatable capable of 35 knots and a D Class (IB-1) 4.5m inflatable capable of 25 knots.