On Saturday 22 April 2023, Littlehampton’s Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) volunteer crews were called to assist with the recovery of a grounded vessel near Clymping beach. The operation was carried out in challenging conditions, including waves up to 2.5 meters high and strong southerly winds.
At 9.15pm, HM Coastguard requested help from Littlehampton’s lifeboat crews to attend to the vessel, which had run aground approximately one mile west of the harbour entrance. The station’s B-Class inshore lifeboat Renee Sherman was launched but faced difficulties reaching the casualty vessel due to low water levels. As a result, the smaller D-Class lifeboat Ray of Hope was also dispatched.
Despite darkness, rain, and hail, the crew managed to navigate the challenging conditions. The D-Class lifeboat reached the beach and sent an RNLI crew member ashore to attach a tow rope to the stranded vessel, a 6.1-meter boat with an outboard engine. After towing the vessel through the surf, another RNLI crew member boarded it to check for damage before towing it back to Littlehampton harbour.
Nick White, Lifeboat Operations Manager at Littlehampton lifeboat station and Deputy Launch Authority for this incident, commended the crew’s efforts. “Night time rescues are more complex due to reduced visibility, especially when the sea state has significant wave heights,” White explained. “The recovery of the vessel that had run aground was complicated by the fact that it was a lee shore wind, which creates a lot of surf and breaking waves. The RNLI crew at Littlehampton are well versed in dealing with these conditions and were able to complete the vessel recovery in a safe and efficient manner.”
Both lifeboats were later recovered from the water, cleaned, and returned to the boathouse, ready for their next mission. The incident highlights the dedication and skill of Littlehampton’s RNLI volunteers, who regularly brave challenging conditions to keep the community safe.