Lifeboat crew to reject new vessel as RNLI dispute intensifies

The base is set to lose its status as an all-weather station with volunteers warning lives at sea will be at risk.

The crew at Arbroath lifeboat station say they will not operate a new replacement vessel, as a dispute with RNLI bosses intensifies.

The base has been downgraded from an all-weather to an inshore station after plans to replace its all-weather lifeboat with a B-class replacement vessel were announced by the charity in late April.

Meanwhile, nearby Broughty Ferry is to be given a Shannon-class all-weather lifeboat.

Volunteers protesting the changes warned the move could risk public safety, a claim rejected by the charity.

“Nobody’s touching it, not going near it. We’ve all decided that amongst ourselves,” said crew member Steven Findlay.

Demonstrations were held at the town's harbour earlier this week

“We weren’t persuaded or asked to follow anyone, you follow your own heart.

“We’ve all said we’re not going to touch it. For things that have happened here in the past, disasters etc, losing lives.

“Saving lives at sea? Won’t be saving lives at sea anymore.”

Steven is among the near 90% of staff who have signed a letter saying they’ll refuse to use the planned replacement vessel.

It’s called the Atlantic 85, which the RNLI describes as one of its fastest, which can handle “fairly challenging conditions”.

But the crew claim they were promised the Shannon, described by the charity as “revolutionary, designed for all weather”.

Members of the community turned out at Arbroath harbour on Tuesday night to protest, with relations between the town and the charity at rock bottom.

Atlantic 85 lifeboat. Courtesy of RNLI/Nicholas Leach

“We don’t trust people. It’s a terrible thing to say but that’s how we feel,” said Diane Parry, a member of the town’s Lifeboat Guild.

“We are the ones out there, raising money, doing street collections, supermarkets.

“We love raising money for the RNLI but we are absolutely gutted at the way we’ve been treated.”

RNLI says the decision to award the all-weather boat to the nearby Broughty Ferry station will allow for “more consistent time on service.”

Last year it found there were 88 launches from Broughty Ferry, 36 of which were with the all-weather lifeboat and 52 were with the D-class.

In 2022, Arbroath RNLI launched 46 times, 21 of which were with the all-weather lifeboat and 25 were with the D-class inshore lifeboat.

The charity said none of the 46 calls attended by Arbroath RNLI in 2022 were in conditions deemed unsuitable for an Atlantic 85.

It aims to have the replacement vessel in Arbroath within the next couple of weeks.

Stuart Gudgeon, RNLI lifesaving lead for Scotland said: “Next steps are for us to address some of the concerns with the team and the community.

“We currently operate 27 of these lifeboats along the North Sea coastline and busy harbours like Macduff and Stonehaven.

“They are really proven, a great piece of equipment and we’re really keen to bring it up there.”

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