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

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.

Below are some photos taken from Dungeness Lifeboat, the Morrell during the incident

Click here to read the news release complete with video and photos on the RNLI website

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 Republic of Ireland from 237 lifeboat stations, including four along the River Thames and inland lifeboat stations at Loch Ness, Lough Derg, Enniskillen and Lough Ree. Additionally the RNLI has more than 1,000 lifeguards on over 180 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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