Historic Callouts

Date of launch

Time of launch



Sea state at
casualty or search area

Date returned

Time refuelled & RFS


01/08/06 19:32 Overcast, good vis W f 6-7 Rough 2 - 2.5m swell 01/08/06 20:00 Report of persons in danger of drowning
Taken in the heat of the moment this picture shows two crew members who went over the side to get hold of the female casualty   This photo from a mobile phone was taken by Barry who guided us to the casualties positions from the NCI lookout    Also in the lookout Dave took this mobile phone shot as we backed away having picked up the male casualty   This picture shows the confused clapoptic waves caused by waves bouncing off the breakwater meeting incoming waves   The casualties were taken into the wheelhouse to be assessed and warmed up as the lifeboat backed into deeper water
25. Solent CG requested our immediate launch to 2 persons being swept out to sea west of Newhaven breakwater. The pagers were activated at 19:27 and the lifeboat left the side at 19:32 arriving on scene just west of the breakwater at 19:38. The first casualty was spotted about half way along the breakwater around 50m off and the lifeboat manoeuvred alongside and 2 crew members entered the water to assist the recovery of 1 female. Receiving directions from Newhaven NCI in the lookout and Newhaven CG on the beach the second casualty was spotted very close to the northern end of the breakwater some 50m from the surfline. Again the lifeboat went alongside and 2 crew entered the water and recovered the male casualty. The casualties were taken into the wheelhouse for assessment of possible hypothermia as the lifeboat went astern into deeper water. We left the scene at 19:42 after a very short but dramatic service. The lifeboat was back alongside at 19:50 when both casualties were handed into the care of Sussex Ambulance for assessment.
The Coxswain's report concludes "Good launch time, crew responded well as a team, thereby saving two persons in rough conditions and close quarters."

The Chairman of the RNLI, Admiral Sir Jock Slater, later sent a "Framed Letter of Thanks" The text of the Letter of Thanks can be read through the hyperlink to the left but this photo shows what it actually looks like to Coxswain Ian Johns congratulating him on his seamanship and leadership during the service leading to the saving of two lives. The RNLI's Operations Director sent a "Letter of Thanks" to each of the crew acknowledging their professionalism and competence. H M Coastguard Station Officer, Trevor Cutler, wrote a letter to our Honorary Secretary to congratulate the Coxswain and crew.

Coxswain : Ian Johns          Mechanic : Andrew MacQueen
Crew : Phill Corsi, Lol Deakin, Nick Gentry, Chris Hamilton, Chris O'Connor, Scott Parker, Leslie Summers

21/10/98 08:40 Rain, poor vis SSW f 7-8 Rough 21/10/98 13:16 Large sailing vessel stranded in adverse weather
The schooner was too heavy for the lifeboat to tow in the conditions. Several attempts were made to get alongside the casualty. In the shallow water and high waves the schooner was thrown against the lifeboat causing damage to her bow. In the prevailing conditions it was decided to commence evacuation of the persons aboard the schooner by helicopter. The tug Meeching tried desperately to stop the schooner being driven ashore.
In the rough seas the tug was herself bumping on the bottom. As the seas slammed into the stranded schooner the spray rose almost to the tops of her masts. Ashore a growing team of coastguards, police, ambulance and council personnel awaited the landing of the casualties. The casualties were airlifted in pairs to speed the evacuation. A testament to the skill and professionalism of the helicopter crew, all 51 PoB were rescued without injury.
A Letter of Thanks was sent by the RNLI Chief of Operations in recognition of skipper Bob Domin's excellent seamanship during his attempts to pull the schooner clear. The helicopter clears the scene having airlifted all aboard the schooner to safety on the beach. One of the parted tow lines can be clearly seen here trailing from the schooner's bow. With the schooner firmly ashore and all persons safe there is nothing more for the lifeboat to do until attempts to refloat the vessel over the following days. As the sea retreats the schooner settled in a more upright position.
The Dutch sail training vessel "Eendracht" sailed from Newhaven at 08:30 but shortly after dropping the Pilot onto the pilot boat the vessel bumped the sand bank to the east of the harbour. A distress call to Solent CG prompted them to request the launch of Newhaven lifeboat and the tug "Meeching" as well as Coastguard Rescue Helicopter "India Juliet". The lifeboat was first on scene at 08:50 to find the three masted 60m vessel bumping the bottom and listing to port. The captain requested that the 51 PoB  be evacuated. The lifeboat was taken inside the vessel and three attempts were made to come alongside and on the last occasion the lifeboat sustained damage to the bow section when the schooner rolled on to the lifeboat. With the imminent arrival of "India Juliet" it was decided better to evacuate the persons by helo.

By this time the "Meeching" was on scene and their crew managed to get a line aboard the "Eendracht" but in the heavy seas with the schooner well aground this parted. As the tug herself was hitting the bottom the lifeboat was used to take a line from the tug and backed in to the schooner to pass it aboard but this line too parted. Whilst the helo continued to airlift the casualties the lifeboat and tug, working together in shallow water and heavy breaking seas, managed to connect further tows but the lines parted three times.

By 12:20 all persons had been safely airlifted to the beach by the helo and at 12:43 when the last tow parted the lifeboat left the scene and the vessel was left to be driven further ashore. When the lifeboat returned to harbour crew member Andrew MacQueen was taken to hospital for x-ray as he had sustained a blow against the after rails. It was discovered he had suffered 3 cracked ribs.

The RNLI's Chief of Operations later sent a "Letter of Thanks" to Coxswain/Mechanic Mike Beach and his crew for their seamanship, teamwork and professionalism during this service. He also sent a "Letter of Thanks" to Bob Domin, skipper of the tug "Meeching" congratulating him on his excellent seamanship and boat-handling skills during the attempts to pull the schooner clear.

Coxswain : Mike Beach          2nd Coxswain : Ian Johns           Mechanic : Brian Ashdown
Crew : Chris Bird, Phill Corsi, Lol Deakin, Nick Gentry, Paul Legendre, Andy MacQueen, Shaun Thomas

19/11/96 10:42 Rain squalls, good vis SSE f 10-12 Very rough 19/11/96 19:40 Large merchant vessel with machinery failure
In a SSE storm gusting to hurricane force this 9,300 ton bulk-carrier broke down 7 NM south of Beachy Head    The lifeboat stood by in appalling conditions as repairs were effected on the casualty    Eventually the repairs were completed and the ship resumed her passage, escorted for a while by the lifeboat. The RNLI's Chief of Operations sent a letter of thanks to Coxswain Mike Beach and the crew for this service of 9 hours in severe weather conditions.
Solent CG paged the Hon. Sec. at 10:30 to inform him that the 9,300 GRT bulk carrier "Robin" in ballast on passage from Aberdeen to Cardiff  had suffered machinery failure 7 NM south of Beachy Head. She had 26 PoB and had two anchors down but was still drifting and so the lifeboat was requested to launch and stand by the vessel. The relief Arun "Duke of Atholl"  proceeded to the casualty at reduced speed in the appalling conditions and when it reached the "Robin" at 11:50 she had already drifted 2 NM towards the coast but her anchors had at last held.

As the lifeboat took up station close alongside the vessel, with huge waves constantly breaking over her, the engineers aboard the casualty worked to repair the engine. In the meantime the Coastguard Rescue tug "Far Turbot" was despatched from the Dover Straits with an ETA of 13:00. Even when the tug arrived on scene the skipper of the "Robin" refused assistance as the repairs to the engine were nearly complete, so the tug and lifeboat continued to stand by the casualty in atrocious conditions and waves in excess of 8m. When the engine repairs were completed at about 15:00 a new problem was discovered that the hydraulic capstans were unable to recover the anchors. It was not until 17:45 that the repairs to the hydraulic system were effected and the lifeboat was requested to escort the "Robin" for a while to ensure she could continue on her passage. The lifeboat eventually left the vessel to continue on her passage at 18:33 arriving back at harbour at 19:05.

The RNLI's Chief of Operations later sent a "Letter of Thanks" to Coxswain/Mechanic Mike Beach and his crew for their "devotion to duty during this service, carried out in severe weather conditions, with the crew closed-up for 9 hours".

Coxswain : Mike Beach          2nd Coxswain : Ian Johns           Mechanic : Brian Ashdown
Crew : Chris Bird, Lol Deakin, Mark Ford, Nick Gentry, Paul Legendre

25/01/90 15:02 Cloudy, poor vis WSW f 11-12 Phenomenal 25/01/90 15:41 Large merchant vessel with machinery failure
In January 1990 this car ferry was crippled in mid channel when 120 mph winds created huge waves that smashed the bridge windows swamping equipment and  causing  a short circuit    Newhaven lifeboat and helo Rescue 174 were sent to assist but before they arrived emergency power and steering was restored and the ferry continued her slow passage to Dieppe    As the already stricken ferry entered Dieppe she was swept by a large wave into the harbour wall ripping a hole in the hull under the waterline causing her to list badly
At 14:40 Dover CG picked up a Mayday call from the car ferry "Chartres" stating that the vessel had machinery failure 5 NM south of the Greenwich Meridian buoy (some 30 NM SSW of Newhaven) and required assistance. The ferry had 130 passengers and crew aboard and had suffered machinery failure as a result of huge waves breaking through the windows of the bridge and swamping equipment causing short circuits. The Captain instructed passengers and crew to don lifejackets in preparation for abandoning the ship. The wind at the time was WSW 80 - 95 knots and as the pager system was out of action the crew were asked to stand by at the boathouse.

At 15:00 the "Chartres" requested helo assistance and Rescue 174 was sent from Lee-on-Solent and the lifeboat was launched to back up the helo. At 15:15 auxiliary power was restored aboard the "Chartres" and in the appalling conditions she slowly continued her crossing to Dieppe and the helo and lifeboat were stood down to return to station. The lifeboat arrived back at Newhaven at 15:41 after a short but exceptionally rough service. The official report of this service recorded the sea to be state 9, "Phenomenal".

As the "Chartres" eventually entered Dieppe at around 21:00 a huge wave swept the ship into the harbour wall ripping a hole in the hull below the waterline. The vessel started to list badly as water poured on board but she was able to dock. It was some time before the list was improved sufficiently for the passengers and vehicles to disembark.

Coxswain : Mike Beach          2nd Coxswain : Paddy Boyle           Mechanic : Brian Ashdown
Crew : Lol Deakin, Nick Gentry, Ian Johns, Derek Payne

16/10/87 09:35 Rain squalls, poor vis SW f 9-11 Very rough 25/01/90 13:05 Fishing vessel with machinery failure taking on water
On the morning following the 1987 storm a French fishing vessel was disabled and sinking 7 NM SW of Newhaven    In winds gusting to force 11 the vessel and were crew of five were saved in a service which earned the Coxswain Len Patten a framed Letter of Thanks from the Chairman of the RNLI
In the wake of the Great Storm of the early hours of 16 October 1987, Solent CG received a "Mayday" from the French fishing vessel "La Francoise" at 09:30. The message stated that the 60ft vessel was disabled and sinking 7 NM SW of Newhaven and there were 5 PoB. With telephone lines and radio aerials down along the coast the vessel's predicament was relayed to Newhaven CG who shouted the news across the river to the lifeboat which was helping the marina to recover boats and pontoons swept across the harbour by the storm.

The lifeboat left the harbour at 09:35 and made best possible speed towards the casualty with exceptionally heavy seas still running. The vessel was reached 2205.6 NM from Newhaven at 10:15 and thanks to the then DLA Mike Tubb, a fluent French speaker, language problems were overcome as he relayed messages from the lifeboat to the vessel via the Newhaven CG Land Rover's radio. Having ascertained that the crew were shaken and apprehensive but otherwise unharmed Coxswain Len Patten decided that the vessel and crew could be saved if a tow could be established. He manoeuvred the lifeboat as close as possible to the casualty up wind to enable a heaving line to be passed allowing the French crew to pull the towline across. The operation was complicated when the French crew decided to rig a bridle for the tow which took 30 minutes. During this time Coxswain Patten skilfully held position ahead of the casualty in the gusting wind and steep seas. On deck the crew had to constantly pay out and recover the tow to ensure the rope was not pulled taut nor too much slack allowed in the water. This operation required great skill and patience by the Coxswain and crew.

A slow and difficult tow to Newhaven followed and very rough seas were encountered at the harbour entrance before the vessel was safely berthed at 12:40. Once moored a salvage pump was put aboard the vessel to keep her afloat until repairs were effected.

Coxswain Len Patten received a "Framed Letter of Thanks" from the Chairman of the RNLI for his outstanding seamanship and great courage during this service. A letter of commendation from the Director was sent to the crew for their very considerable part in the service. A letter of appreciation from the Chief of Operations was sent to DLA Mike Tubb for his help as interpreter.

Coxswain : Len Patten          2nd Coxswain : Paddy Boyle           Mechanic : Mike Beach
Crew : Chris Bird, Phill Corsi, Nick Gentry, Ian Johns

......... more to follow when archive Service Returns are to hand .........