Pictures as Arbroath all-weather lifeboat launches for the final time in emotional farewell

webnexttech | Pictures as Arbroath all-weather lifeboat launches for the final time in emotional farewell

Arbroath turned out to salute its all-weather lifeboat as it left the town for the final time on Sunday. Crowds lined the harbour to watch RNLB Inchcape glide down the slip one last time. The vessel was cheered into retirement on an afternoon of emotion against the background of controversy which has ended the historic station’s all-weather capability. But the sound of the klaxon signalled spontaneous applause and a swell of pride for the lifesaving contribution the Mersey-class boat has made over her three decades. Arbroath is one of Scotland’s oldest lifeboat stations – pre-dating the formation of the RNLI which celebrated its 200th anniversary this month. And the Inchcape’s departure signals the end of an era since Arbroath is the last station in Scotland with a slipway launch. Bought by the people of Arbroath and Angus RNLB Inchcape arrived in the Angus town in 1993. The vessel was funded by the community of Arbroath and named after the Inchcape reef on which the Bell Rock lighthouse sits. During her service she has launched on 460 rescues, aiding 304 people, and saved 12 lives. The charity has endured a torrid time since the decision last April to replace the all-weather Mersey-class boat with an inshore Atlantic 85. But the RNLI hailed the “selfless dedication” of the Arbroath crew. And having endured a difficult year, they say they are now looking forward with confidence to the next chapter of lifesaving in the town. Lifeboat operations manager Ron Churchill has volunteered with the RNLI since May 1981, sailing for 24 years on the Mersey. “I spent 10 years on RNLB Shoreline before the Mersey arrived in 1993,” he said. “The Mersey-class was double the speed of the Rother-class and the electronic advancements with the navigational equipment was a massive boost to us. “The Mersey has been a wonderful servant to the station and town and will be sorely missed, but we look forward to starting the next chapter.” New crew on board It means the high-speed Atlantic 85 lifeboat is now officially on service at Arbroath following months of trials and familiarisation. Six new volunteer crew members have joined to learn the ropes and three of the Arbroath crew have complete assessments to take charge of the lifeboat. The current Atlantic 85 is one from the RNLI’s relief fleet but will be replaced in due course. Michael Marr was navigator for the Mersey’s final launch. He looked back on an entire RNLI volunteering career spent with the Inchcape. “I joined as a volunteer on my 17th birthday and have spent 16 years as crew on the Mersey,” he said. “She has been an excellent asset to the town and we’re very proud of the difference she has made to lifesaving since 1993.” Michael was one of 12 crewmen from Arbroath and Montrose RNLI honoured for their part in a treacherous mission at the height of Storm Arwen in 2021. The courageous volunteers battled six-metre seas and near hurricane force winds to go to the aid of a craft at risk of grounding on the Angus coast. Broughty Ferry and Montrose lifeboats also joined in Sunday’s farewell to the Mersey-class craft. Courier photographer Mhairi Edwards watched RNLB Inchcape leave Arbroath harbour for the final time.

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