Jersey Lifeboat Association expects to be running again ‘within weeks’

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THE Jersey Lifeboat Association could restart operations within weeks, with the organisation emerging ‘stronger than before’, its chairman has said.

Former Senator Ben Shenton said that feedback from an independent investigation into an accident at sea had so far been ‘very positive’.

This week it was announced that the charity’s operations would be suspended while a review was conducted into an incident involving its all-weather lifeboat.

The Sir Max Aitken III hit rocks near Noirmont while going to the aid of a yacht which had become entangled in fishing gear. The JLA vessel was able to make it back to port but has since been taken to the UK for repairs.

As part of recommendations made in an independent investigation into the incident, Jersey Coastguard is due to look into the voluntary association’s ‘operational policies and procedures’ and whether they remain appropriate.

Meanwhile, the JLA council is reviewing its ‘legal and regulatory obligations’ and how the association maintains its ‘duty of care to the crew’.

In a statement, Mr Shenton said: ‘The Jersey Lifeboat Association was formed in 2018. Thanks to the support of the public and the enthusiasm and hard work of our members we have become the first independent station in decades to establish an all-weather lifeboat station, and we are the proud owners of one of the newest and most advanced inshore lifeboats in the world.

‘Unfortunately, we had an accident with our all-weather lifeboat, Sir Max, in November, which caused some damage. In darkness we hit rocks off Noirmont – something that should not have happened but did. We always set out to be a transparent and honest organisation and the day after the incident we, in conjunction with Ports of Jersey, requested an independent investigation into the accident.

‘We have also commissioned our own internal investigation, which is far more wide ranging.

‘With the Sir Max being in the UK undergoing repair, and inshore rescues being less prevalent at this time of year, it is prudent to concentrate our resources on undertaking a comprehensive audit of all our procedures and equipment, in conjunction with Ports of Jersey.’

Mr Shenton added that the organisation had already identified some procedures that required changing but that an independent investigator had praised the crew for its training and equipment-management systems and the manner in which its exercises and qualifications were logged.

He said: ‘We plan to learn from the accident and emerge stronger than before. The investigations/audit should be completed early in the new year and we expect to be back up and running, and saving lives, within weeks.’

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