Sunday, 22 June 2008

Show us your assets

Mumbles. . . Speak up lad!
No, we are in Mumbles, a place just outside Swansea.

Tide race off Mumbles Head kicking up

With a westerly F 8-9 howling outside, I am glad to be inside Mumbles Lifeboat Station.

This new station is close by the original station that housed the ill fated lifeboat Edward, Prince of Wales. On the night of 23 April 1947, this lifeboat was lost with all 8 volunteer crew while attempting to save the SS Samtampa and its 39 crew, aground on rocky ledges off Sker Point. The ship broke open and spilled it's oil and was capsised onto the lifeboat. The crew of the lifeboat suffered the most horrible end by choking on the oil. The wind worsened and increased to hurricane strength. A local farmer close to where I live can remember oil being wiped from his windows and the oil killing a number of apple trees, this is some 14km along the cost. I spare a thought for all those souls as I walk around the station.

A small group of us are here to take part in a VHF Operator's Short Range Certificate course and examination. Martin Double, coxwain and station training guru, has kindly set up the course for us wanabee radio hams. The table in front of us is laid out with a pair of DSC marine radios connected to each other by a thick length of "co-ax".

With this set up we are able to use the equipment "hands on" and transmit all manor of distress calls that would otherwise get the local boys and girls pagers going off, and their little legs running towards the boathouse. These sets can however receive all live transmissions.
In the middle of being baptised in the dark art of Digital Selective Calling (DSC), Pan Pans and Maydays, by some prearranged signal we hear a Mayday call being put out. Swansea Coast Guard (CG) pick up transmission and respond.

What followed was an insight in how not to make a Mayday call. It took a good 10 minutes for the CG to calm the operator down and to extract the first vital bit of information, the persons position, followed by enough information for them to make a decision and task the appropriate rescue asset.

Then the DSC alarm on our radio is activated by the CG relaying the mayday to all stations, followed by the voice transmission. All textbook stuff.

Within 5 minutes of the CG getting all his info the ILB was disgorged from the bowels of the room below us, and we took up our front row seats.

The ALB being made ready

Soon the ALB was launched to assist, and before we knew it Rescue 196 chopper was out (for a different shout). You can read the ILB log and the ALB log of the shouts, for the 22 June 2008.

The D-boat ILB and the Tyne ALB

A monster seagull tries to take out Rescue 169

After all that excitement we return to sit our exam paper.

Many thanks to Martin for giving up his Sunday afternoon and for arranging the live demo of all the possible local rescue assets.

We all passed by the way. Legal at last!


Cailean Macleod said...

Cracking photos in your last two posts :-)

eurion said...

Thank you. I try my best.