THE RNLI is investigating the possibility of opening a new lifeboat station at Stonehaven, following the closure of the charity that was providing voluntary rescue cover along a 25-mile stretch of the Aberdeenshire coastline.
The town’s Maritime Rescue Institute (MRI), which also specialised in training lifeboat crews from across the world, withdrew rescue cover for the area last month after the charity, already struggling financially because of falling donations, announced that it had no option but to close down.
MRI, based in Stonehaven for more than 30 years and, had provided volunteer crews to provide 24 hour search and rescue lifeboat response via the Coastguard for up to 50 nautical miles offshore. It had carried out more than 500 rescue operations since it opened.
The RNLI today announced that the institution is now carrying out a feasibility study into the possibility of basing an inshore lifeboat at the Aberdeenshire town’s harbour.
Richard Smith, the charity’s spokesman in Scotland, said: “We are in the middle of a feasibility study to assess whether to out an inshore lifeboat at Stonehaven.
“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 explained that a report would be submitted to the RNLI’s trustees on 10 April when the trustees could decide to sanction further research into establishing a new base in the town.
Mr Smith continued: “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. 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.”