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Wells RNLI in major air-sea rescue for life raft spotted 27 miles offshore

Lifeboats News Release

A major sea search and rescue was launched after a sea tanker spotted a life raft drifting twenty-seven miles north of Wells-next-the-Sea.

UK Coastguard immediately requested Wells RNLI to launch the lifeboat and at 11:.50am on Thursday 10 November.

The all-weather lifeboat Doris M Mann of Ampthill launched and headed towards the sighting. At the same time the search and rescue helicopter based at Humberside was scrambled and headed to the scene.

Meanwhile the tanker Force Fisher, whose crew had reported the sighting, was standing by and at 12.10pm she radioed that the crew had managed to recover the life raft. There were no people on board.

It was identified as coming from an unmanned rig West Sole Charlie. Efforts were made to contact the operators to see if they had a life raft missing or if there was any of their workforce scheduled to be on board the rig. When contact couldn’t be established with the owners, the rescue helicopter diverted to the rig to do a visual check.

Everything seemed in order, so UK Coastguard stood down the tanker Force Fisher, the rescue helicopter and the lifeboat at 12.27pm. The lifeboat set a course for home and arrived back at Wells RNLI Lifeboat Station at 1.40pm.

RNLI media contacts

  • Peter Rainsford, Wells RNLI Deputy Launching Authority, 01328 711463, 07789 967255,
  • John Mitchell, Wells-Next-the-Sea Volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer, 01328 710882 / 07831103166 /
  • Tim Ash, RNLI Public Relations Manager (London/East/South East) 0207 6207426 / 07785 296252
  • For enquiries outside normal business hours, contact the RNLI duty press officer on 01202 336789

Key facts about the RNLI

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution is the charity that saves lives at sea. Our volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service in the United Kingdom and Ireland from 238 lifeboat stations, including four along the River Thames and inland lifeboat stations at Loch Ness, Lough Derg, Enniskillen, Carrybridge and Lough Ree. Additionally the RNLI has more than 1,000 lifeguards on over 240 beaches around the UK and operates a specialist flood rescue team, which can respond anywhere across the UK and Ireland when inland flooding puts lives at risk.

The RNLI relies on public donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. As a charity it is separate from, but works alongside, government-controlled and funded coastguard services. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824 our lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved at least 140,000 lives. Volunteers make up 95% of the charity, including 4,600 volunteer lifeboat crew members and 3,000 volunteer shore crew. Additionally, tens of thousands of other dedicated volunteers raise funds and awareness, give safety advice, and help in our museums, shops and offices.

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Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries

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The RNLI is a charity registered in England and Wales (209603) and Scotland (SC037736). Charity number 20003326 in the Republic of Ireland