RNLI considering inshore lifeboat service at Stonehaven

The RNLI is investigating opening a new lifeboat station at Stonehaven following the closure of the Maritime Rescue Institute (MRI).

It was forced to end its operations last month following financial difficulties after winter storms destroyed its boats and damaged its headquarters.

The institute had operated out of the town for more than 30 years, providing a voluntary rescue service and acting as an education centre to local schools and seafaring companies across the world.

However, it faced an insurmountable financial challenge to bring it back into working order.

Its range of boats allowed the service to get close to the cliff faces of the east coast, and although the RNLI has said there is no gap in coverage of the area following the MRI’s closure, it has confirmed that it is carrying out a feasibility study into the possibility of basing an inshore lifeboat at Stonehaven.

Richard Smith, the charity’s spokesman in Scotland, said: “There is not a gap in cover. We cover the area at the moment with our all-weather lifeboats at Aberdeen and Montrose, but an inshore boat would be able to go in along the coastline and do work there that the MRI used to do.”

He said a report will be submitted to the RNLI’s trustees on April 10, when they could decide to sanction further research into establishing a base in the town.

“The two main things we are going to have to look at are obviously the cost is it viable to put a station there? and secondly the most critical issue is whether we can get the volunteers,” Mr Smith said.

“Are there enough people living or working locally that can provide the service 24/7, 365 days a year?

“Even for a small inshore boat you still need a crew complement of 15 to 20 people so that, at any given time, we can get three or four people to man the boat.”