Rescuers fear lifeboat dispute could 'see 220-year-old station close'

Charity RNLI is in a row with volunteers in Arbroath over the allocation of a replacement vessel.

A dispute between lifeboat crew in Arbroath and the RNLI could bring an end to the town’s 220-year-old station.

A replacement vessel, which the crew is continuing to refuse to operate, arrived in the town on Thursday morning.

Volunteers argued it’s a downgrade from the all-weather lifeboat they had requested, something the charity rejects.

“I’m the only crew member within sight,” said crew member Steven Findlay, who lives just metres from Arbroath Harbour.

“Today was a familiarisation of the Atlantic. The crew are conspicuous by their absence.”

Crew member Steven Findlay says volunteers will refuse to operate the Atlantic 85

When asked if the dispute could result in there being no lifeboat station in the Angus town, Mr Findlay added: “That’s a possibility, distinct possibility. Quite a few of us could see that happening.”

The Atlantic 85 is an inshore vessel, currently serving over 100 lifeboat stations across the UK and Ireland, including Stonehaven.

“One of the fastest we have available to us, so 35 knots,” said Mike Garfitt, an Atlantic 85 helmsman within the RNLI.

“The endurance of three miles means it can cover 100 miles within that range.

“Safety aspects, navigation equipment has all increased over the years to make it the safest lifeboat we can give.”

But crew in Arbroath say it’s not what they were promised.

They were originally set to receive a Shannon boat, described by the RNLI as “revolutionary and designed for all-weather.”

Charity bosses said it would be “really regrettable” if they were to lose volunteers from Arbroath as a result of the dispute.

RNLI bosses insist the new vessel will improve the station's ability to respond to call outs

“We are absolutely committed to continuing to deliver our effective life saving service out of Arbroath,” said Stuart Gudgeon, RNLI’s Area Lifesaving Manager.

“We believe the best possible step in doing that is bringing in this fantastic lifeboat into Arbroath and letting them experience that first hand.”

The RNLI says its fully committed to engaging with staff in Arbroath, adding it plans to replace the town’s ageing station.

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