Independent lifeboat vessel may be here by Tuesday

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Ben Shenton said that a deposit of £2,500 had been put down on the £80,000 Sir Max Aitken III. The all-weather lifeboat, which is of the same Tyne-class type as Jersey’s old St Helier lifeboat, Alexander Coutanche, is currently laid-up in a yard in Great Yarmouth.

Mr Shenton said that the JLA, which formed following a break down in relations with the RNLI, had now secured a berth alongside the Albert Pier, near to where the Duke of Normandy tug is stationed.

‘It [the Sir Max Aitken III] could be here as early as Tuesday or Wednesday, but that is not set in stone,’ he said. ‘It should be within the coming weeks.

‘Ports of Jersey has been very helpful in arranging a mooring for us next to their tug, so we will be based around there.

‘A lot of people thought that nothing would happen but things are now moving forward, although we still have a long way to go.’

Mr Shenton added that it would be months before the vessel was fully certified for search and rescue operations. And he said that the organisation still needed to buy insurance and crew equipment.

‘It is not just a case of buying a vessel and away you go. We need to have health-and-safety certificates, rescue codes, a training regime and a list of procedures, which can take a massive amount of time,’ he said.

‘Then there is the boat. We need to prove that it is being maintained regularly, our equipment is sufficient, our radio equipment is up to standard – it is just everything you can think of.’

Before being laid-up in a yard in Great Yarmouth, the Sir Max Aitken III was stationed at the RNLI’s Bembridge station in the Isle of Wight between 1987 and 2009.

The vessel joined the charity’s relief fleet in Poole in 2009 before it was sold to a private owner.

Earlier this year the JEP revealed that questions surrounded whether the JLA would be able to operate the Sir Max Aitken III, due to a covenant being in place on the vessel.

All vessels which previously belonged to the RNLI have a clause attached to them preventing them from being used as a lifeboat in UK or Irish waters. The Channel Islands are legally defined under international law as being in UK territorial waters.

The covenant also means that when the vessel is sold on, any future buyer is required to comply with the terms and the seller has to inform the purchaser.

The RNLI has since said that it is ‘likely’ to waive the covenant in place on the Sir Max Aitken III but warned that it would be ‘prepared to pursue legal action’ to ensure that the boat is repainted in colours which ‘adequately differentiate it’ from the RNLI fleet.

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