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Jersey's all-weather lifeboat is back with temporary crew

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JERSEY’S all-weather lifeboat is now able to provide lifesaving cover during extreme weather this winter – after the RNLI drafted in a standby crew.

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The vessel, which has not been used since the RNLI closed the St Helier station last month following a long-running dispute with local volunteers, will operate with a mixed crew of UK and local volunteers.

Under the new set-up, the UK-based team, who provided cover in Jersey earlier this year, will be called to the Island ahead of forecast bad weather and will work with St Catherine RNLI crew members who are being trained to use the all-weather vessel.

The boat will be used when conditions are too rough for the St Helier inshore vessel.

In a statement, the RNLI said: ‘After reviewing our lifesaving service in Jersey and likely weather conditions over the next few weeks, we can confirm that the RNLI has identified a small number of standby staff qualified to crew the [all-weather] George Sullivan and with experience of operating in local waters.

‘The crew is ready to travel to Jersey in advance of adverse weather conditions where our inshore lifeboats at St Helier and St Catherine would be unable to operate to ensure that an all-weather response is provided.’

The new system began this week when the UK crew travelled to Jersey ahead of severe gale force winds.

While in the Island, the UK team will work with new volunteers who are being trained as the RNLI seeks to establish a new St Helier crew to operate both the inshore and all-weather vessels.

It is the latest development in a tumultuous 12 months for the St Helier station, whose crew stood down en masse earlier this year after their coxswain, Andy Hibbs, was sacked.

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Mr Hibbs was later reinstated and the crew returned to work, but the relationship between the local volunteers and the RNLI hit a new low last month, resulting in the charity closing the station and taking the George Sullivan back to Poole.

The vessel returned to Jersey several weeks ago, and the charity hopes to have the all-weather boat back in full-time service by the end of March.

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