South Broads lifeboat station at Oulton Broad closes

The RNLI has announced that its trustees have accepted the recommendations of its Operations Committee to close its South Broads lifeboat station based at Oulton Broad, Lowestoft.

The station cloaed last night after 10 years of the crew saving lives on the Broads.

A Coast Review in January 2011 and a comprehensive evaluation through the summer concluded that public safety on The Broads would be better served by relocating the station's assets elsewhere and improving the ability of nearby Great Yarmouth and Gorleston lifeboat station to respond to incidents in the area.

South Broads was an inland lifeboat station at Oulton Broad crewed entirely by volunteers, who operate one D class lifeboat, an XP boat, and a 4x4 vehicle.

The vehicle will be transferred to Great Yarmouth and Gorleston, where an Arancia rescue boat, which is the RNLI says is more suited to operating from the various slipways in and around The Broads, will also be deployed.

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The Arancia is a rugged inshore rescue boat, with a shallow hull design that allows it to maintain speed and manoeuvrability in very shallow and confined waters but produces less wash. Lighter in weight, it is easier to handle by lifeboat crews and can be deployed rapidly from a towed trailer.

Both the D class lifeboat and XP boat will continue to serve in the RNLI's relief fleet, which ensures the RNLI can offer seamless safety cover around the coast when lifeboats are being maintained or repaired.

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RNLI Operations Director Michael Vlasto said: 'The RNLI does not take the decision to close a lifeboat station lightly but our Coast Review clearly showed that, by reinforcing Great Yarmouth and Gorleston, and by introducing the Arancia, the RNLI can improve its lifesaving service to the public.

'The main launch sites will be more accessible meaning we can extend our cover to a much wider area in The Broads.'

RNLI East Divisional Inspector Andrew Ashton said: 'On behalf of the Trustees, I would like to thank the volunteers at South Broads for their understanding, commitment and dedication to the lifeboat station over the years. We realise they will be disappointed by this decision but it is in no way a reflection on them. We hope they will remain in the RNLI family and continue to support our service in other ways. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the local community for their support over the years.'

Great Yarmouth and Gorleston already covers Breydon Water.

By moving an Arancia to Gorleston, the RNLI says it will be able to provide better coverage over a much larger part of The Broads, where the majority of incidents occur.

The RNLI says the decision has the support of Yarmouth Coastguard Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre, which has the responsibility for co-ordinating the response for incidents on the whole of The Broads.

The Broads Authority, which has responsibility for implementing the Port Marine Safety Code on The Broads, also backs the decision to re-locate a rescue boat, believing that the Institution will be providing an improved service to the south Broads.

South Broads RNLI lifeboat station opened in 2001. Since then, its volunteers have carried out 194 rescues and saved two lives. The majority of the call-outs were made to broken-down pleasure craft. The RNLI currently operates 235 lifeboat stations around the coast of the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland.

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