Former St Helier Crew Call For Public Inquiry

24th November 2017

Image Credit: Former St Helier Lifeboat Crew

The former coxswain of the St Helier lifeboat is calling for an investigation into the events leading to the station’s closure.
Andy Hibbs says the public need to hear the truth about the bitter row between the RNLI and the volunteers.
“What we are actually pressing for is an independent inquiry into the actions of Ports of Jersey, certain States ministers and the RNLI. There is a lot that has been hidden here, people have lied and there has been deceit all the way through. If there is an investigation into what has happened, the public will be able to make their mind up off the back of it.”
Three public meetings have been organised to win support for a locally run service and a ‘The Jersey Independent Lifeboat Service Committee’ has been formed.
But the RNLI has says intends to restore an inshore rescue service by mid-December, and 12 volunteers have come forward for a replacement crew.
Andy says it is important that the situation is resolved.
“We are going to petition the States. This has to happen, we just can’t have something like this happen again. The actions of the RNLI, Ports of Jersey is absolutely disgusting and something has to be done.”
The former crew have met with Deputy Steve Luce, who is representing the States in these discussions going forward.
He has also spoken to civil servants, the harbourmaster and others to discuss the latest situation.

The Environment Minister, Deputy Steve Luce

He has now released a statement in which he signals his support for the RNLI’s efforts to reopen the station.
He says it’s likely St Catherine’s crew members – who are trained to use the St Helier boat – will be used.
Firefighters will also help to run the boat when it returns – which Fire Chief Mark James insists is the right thing to do in the circumstances.
Deputy Luce says he is sure islanders will be relieved to hear the RNLI’s intention to have lifeboat cover back soon.
He adds he will be keeping the public updated regularly until the situation is resolved.
The full statement can be read below:
“It’s now been a week since the two St. Helier lifeboats were withdrawn from service. This has put us here in Jersey in an unprecedented position. Consequently I thought I needed to issue an update to the public, something I now intend to do on a regular basis until the situation is resolved.
There is no specific responsibility for ‘Lifeboats’ inside Government, but given my experience as an RNLI volunteer since 1988, I am working on behalf the Council of Ministers, the States, indeed everyone on our Island, to get our Search and Rescue (SAR) services back to where they should be. The public can be assured that I have been, and will continue to, work tirelessly until this is achieved.
Before last Friday it was difficult to get publicly involved in what was, in effect, an internal dispute. However, since last week it is now Government’s role to get services returned just as quickly as possible. In that regard I have had, and continue to have, daily meetings with civil servants, the harbourmaster and others to discuss the latest situation. Those meetings and conversations have included;
  • Jersey Fire and Rescue Service (JRFS)
  • Senior Management of the RNLI
  • St. Catherine’s Lifeboat Management and Crew
  • Officers and Crew of the Norman le Brocq
  • The Emergency Planning Officer
  • The former crew of the St. Helier Lifeboat
Existing local volunteers are already trained to use the St. Helier Inshore lifeboat. Existing local volunteers are able to use either (St. Helier or St. Catherine’s) Inshore Lifeboat (ILB) and we have been discussing with the RNLI how this might work.
The Jersey Fire and Rescue Service have a legal responsibility under the law to save life at sea inside the three mile limit. Their own lifeboat crews are extremely well trained, but we have been working with them to see how quickly they could become further trained so as to help crew the St. Helier Inshore Lifeboat (ILB). The RNLI are providing this additional training starting this weekend.
I have discussed with officers how we might use the Fisheries Protection Vessel the Norman le Brocq in emergency situations. The crew will always respond to emergency calls if they are at sea, however there is further work to do if we are to use this asset specifically for Sea Rescue services. This work remains ongoing.
I have met with the Emergency Planning Officer. As our Fire Chief he is also fully sighted on all proposals to return lifeboats to St. Helier. Lifeboats obviously are a key part of emergency planning.
I met with the ex-crew of the St. Helier Lifeboat to discuss their plans for independent lifeboats. They presented their plans, and we discussed how Government and the Coastguard might help further their ideas. Any proposal to put viable and sustainable Search and Rescue Assets (SAR) assets back on station will be provided with appropriate support.
In addition to those meetings I am in regular daily contact with the harbourmaster. I am fully aware that he is, in addition to those mentioned above, also speaking to those people with search and rescue assets in the other Channel Islands, France and the U.K. The harbourmaster is crucial to making progress. Together with the Registrar of British Ships’ in Jersey he will ultimately have to ‘sign off’ any new lifeboat. Together with Government he is also working with, and providing support to, anyone who can provide a viable and sustainable Search and Rescue Assets (SAR) assets.
I welcome today’s announcement by the RNLI. It is clear they intend to return their St. Helier Station to a state of readiness as quickly as they can. I’m sure the whole community will be very relieved to know that we will soon have lifeboat cover back in St. Helier.”

Share this story: