Humber and Withernsea RNLI Lifeboats were tasked to the aid of stricken divers on Sunday 23 March.
At approximately 11.50 the Humber Lifeboat had just been closed down after exercise when the coastguard contacted the crew requesting their immediate launch. Initial reports were that a Rib (rigid inflatable boat) used to support divers on their dives had broken down and was drifting without an effective anchor. The tasking was complicated by the fact that the Rib had two divers who were now separated from them with no way of being recovered..
The Lifeboat made best speed to the location of the rib knowing that the divers would need to be located quickly to ensure their safety. The Rib was located using the Lifeboats navigation equipment approximately 10 nautical miles East of Withernsea.
Dave Steenvoorden coxswain aboard the Humber Lifeboat said
‘After arriving on scene with the rib the two crew aboard quickly indicated they were well and although the vessel was broken down our priority was to locate the divers, thankfully the divers had an emergency vhf radio and were able to be contacted once they had surfaced, they indicated that although they were adrift they were together, fit and well.’
Because the divers had this emergency vhf radio and coupled with all the information available to the lifeboat crew the lifeboat began searching and the divers were quickly located.
‘The RNLI’s Severn class Lifeboat is fitted with direction finding equipment and because of the signal from their vhf we had a course to follow to locate them, once we got closer the divers surface markers (large inflatable brightly coloured markers) were spotted by my crew and we were able to recover the divers from the water. ‘
Once the divers were aboard the lifeboat they were checked over and found to be well. The lifeboat returned to the rib and established a tow to take all casualties back to Withernsea. The Humber Lifeboat was then met by the RNLI crew from Withernsea who were able; with their smaller inshore Lifeboat, to take the Rib and all persons safely to the beach allowing the Humber crew to return to their Spurn Point station.
‘The equipment that the Divers carried ensured a quick and very successful rescue, we would encourage all other recreational divers to ensure they are as well-equipped, the VHF and surface markers really were lifesavers.’