Distress beacon sparks coastal search by Hoylake and New Brighton RNLI

When the signal from a distress beacon was detected in the Wirral area by HM Coastguard on Tuesday, 13 February, a major search effort by the volunteer crews at Hoylake and New Brighton RNLI was launched.

Hoylake RNLI’s all-weather Shannon class lifeboat Edmund Hawthorn Micklewood and New Brighton’s inshore Atlantic 85 lifeboat Charles Dibdin were both tasked just before 8.00am.

The signal suggested that a casualty could potentially be within a five nautical mile radius somewhere around the Wirral coast. The lifeboats set out to locate the source of the beacon using their radio signal direction-finding equipment.

Hoylake RNLI lifeboat initially searched along the north Wirral coast, before heading towards Prestatyn and into the Dee Estuary. Meanwhile, New Brighton RNLI lifeboat took the search into the River Mersey along both the Wirral and Liverpool sides of the water.

While in the River Dee, Hoylake RNLI lifeboat detected a weak and intermittent signal in the direction of Queensferry in North Wales. The lifeboat immediately headed towards the signal to investigate.

However after further searches, the beacon could no longer be detected. With no further reports of people or vessels missing or in distress, HM Coastguard stood down the RNLI lifeboats.

Hoylake RNLI Coxswain Howie Owen said, “The two lifeboat crews searched for nearly three hours after the alarm was raised. While there was nobody in difficulty in this case, the incident is testament to the commitment of RNLI volunteers who will always drop everything to save lives at sea.

“We would advise everyone who owns lifesaving equipment such as emergency position-indicating radio beacons (EPIRBs) or personal locator beacons (PLBs) to ensure they’re registered with the Coastguard. This helps the authorities to identify and contact owners in an emergency.”

Image: Hoylake and New Brighton RNLI searched for a total of nearly three hours after a distress signal was detected. Credit: Hoylake RNLI

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