JLA Review Will Take 'Weeks, Not Months'

Ben Shenton at the JLA's launch event in 2018

The Chairman of the Jersey Lifeboat Association says he expects the rescue charity will be back up and running in 'weeks, not months'.

Operations are currently suspended while the Coastguard reviews an accident last month, where the JLA's all-weather lifeboat hit rocks off Noirmont on its way to help a stricken fishing boat.

The Sir Max Aitken III is currently away in the UK for repairs.

JLA Chairman, Ben Shenton, says the charity will be using the downtime productively, making sure everything they do is of a 'very high standard':

"Unfortunately we had an accident with the Sir Max Aitken III in November where, in pitch-black, we hit some rocks off Noirmont. That's resulted in the boat going back to the UK for repair.

That is giving us an opportunity to look into what actually happened and review all our procedures with Ports of Jersey and carry out a full review and audit to make sure that we have the standards at the very high level we expect."

The JLA's all-weather lifeboat, the Sir Max Aitken III

The independent investigation into the crash will see the JLA work with Ports of Jersey to establish 'what happened and what lessons can be learnt' from the incident.

Mr Shenton says while the charity is disappointed to have its all-weather lifeboat out of action, there won't be any disruption to the island's emergency response:

"At this time of year, the all-weather lifeboat would be called out much more than the inshore lifeboat, so therefore the loss of the [Sir Max Aitken III] is disappointing.

It seemed pointless leaving our crew on standby over the Christmas period if it was unlikely they were going to be called - and of course there is the RNLI boat there to facilitate at this time of year."

He added that the normal service should resume for the JLA early in the new year, once the review has been completed and published:

"We're a new organisation. We just wanted to look at all our procedures and make sure that everything we do reaches the very high standard that we expect.

We're talking about weeks, not months. There's an independent review being carried out by Ports of Jersey, and also we're carrying out our own review which will be published.

We want to be open and completely transparent, and able to move forward with confidence as a very professional organisation with very high standards."

The Jersey Lifeboat Association was set up in 2018 following a dispute between the RNLI and its St Helier lifeboat crew

Mr Shenton also told Channel 103 the charity is determined to continue serving Jersey for decades to come:

"Our supporters have been absolutely tremendous. We're building a very long-term organisation - the first independent lifeboat service that's been set up anywhere for decades.

We've now got the fastest inshore boats anywhere in the British Isles, and hopefully, we'll go from strength to strength.

With anything though, it's always good to have a look and make sure you're going in the right direction, and everything is as robust as it can be."

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