Doubts Over Guernsey Rescue Response Time
20th November 2017
Captain Chad Murray, Guernsey’s Harbourmaster
Guernsey’s Harbourmaster has expressed doubts about the ability of his island’s services to respond quickly to an emergency in Jersey’s waters.
On Friday, the RNLI closed the St Helier lifeboat station and took the George Sullivan all weather boat to the UK, following a long-running dispute with the crew.
The move leaves the island without a rescue vessel capable of launching in all conditions.
Jersey’s Harbourmaster, Captain Bill Sadler, subsequently said that he had spoken to colleagues in both France and Guernsey about “flank cover from their stations”.
But his Guernsey counterpart Captain Chad Murray says the lack of a St Helier crew could have implications in emergency situations.
“It could be that Jersey requests support through us here in Guernsey Coastguard, or indeed they might look at the assets over in France as well, through the French Coastguard,” he says.
“There are still a number of assets around that we can call on to help each other out, but obviously a reduction in the overall pool of vessels and craft that can help means that we may not be able to respond as quickly as we possibly could in the past.”
The RNLI announced the closure of the Albert Pier lifeboat station on Friday morning, just days after the crew said they wanted to go independent.
A video of the George Sullivan leaving the island (above) was subsequently posted on the charity’s website.
In a statement, Director of Community Lifesaving and Fundraising, Leesa Harwood said:
“We would like to reassure the Jersey community that St Catherine’s RNLI lifeboat station remains open and we will be doing everything we can to restore an RNLI all-weather lifeboat service to the island as quickly as possible, working alongside the States of Jersey, the coastguard and the maritime community.
“Our immediate focus will be on restoring an inshore lifeboat service in St Helier.
“Re-establishing all-weather lifeboat cover will take a few months and in the meantime the RNLI will transfer the Tamar class lifeboat to Poole, where it will be fully serviced and stay while we make plans for the future.”
Coxswain Andy Hibbs – who is at the centre of the dispute between the RNLI and the crew – has labelled the situation “a massive disgrace”.
He says he may hold public meetings to explain to islanders what his plans are and to show what he has been through.
The crew are tomorrow due to meet Jersey’s Environment Minister – Deputy Steve Luce – to discuss their plans for an independent service.