RNLI New Brighton’s lifeboat escorts Cunard’s flagship during 175th birthday

New Brighton's Atlantic 85 B-837 Charles Dibdin

Lifeboats News Release

  • Date:25/05/2015
  • Author: Bob Warwick

Bank Holiday Monday, 25th May, saw RNLI New Brighton’s inshore lifeboat B-837 Charles Dibdin escort Cunard’s flagship Queens Mary 2 as the three magnificent liners sailed down the River Mersey in celebration of Cunard’s 175th birthday.

RNLI stations at New Brighton, Hoylake and Lytham St Annes were privileged to represent the RNLI as part of the cortège at Cunard’s Three Queens spectacular on the River Mersey watched by over one million people at the event followed by many more on TV and other media worldwide.

New Brighton’s Charles Dibdin was joined on the river by Hoylake’s new Shannon class all-weather lifeboat 13-06 Edmund Hawthorn Micklewood and Lytham St Annes all-weather lifeboat 12-30 Her Majesty the Queen making her the fourth Queen on the river. Although forming part of the escort they were also on standby should their services be called upon. With unprecedented crowds visiting the event their was a significant risk that someone would end up in the water.

In addition RNLI Lifeguards were on duty safeguarding the vast crowds on the Wirral and Crosby shores endeavouring to minimise the dangers of people going into the water, being cut off by the incoming tide or stuck in extensive areas of mud or soft sand.

Supporting the lifeguards New Brighton’s hovercraft H-007 Samburgh was patrolling the area between New Brighton and Seacombe on the Wirral bank helping police the sands and groynes to keep people safe from getting stuck in mud or by the incoming tide, prevention being better than rescue.

Cheering crowds thronged both banks of the River Mersey as the Queen Elizabeth led the parade escorted by the Edmund Hawthorn Micklewood followed by Queen Victoria by the Her Majesty the Queen as escort and finally Cunard’s 150,000 ton flagship Queen Mary 2 by the Charles Dibdin sailed into port with horns sounding. After passing Liverpool’s Pier Head they proceeded to do their choreographed synchronised ‘river dance’ against the backdrop of the Three Graces, a world heritage site which includes the Cunard Building, the company’s headquarters from 1916-1967 and topped off overhead when the Red Arrows when they flew over.

Cunard’s fleet of three Queens were the biggest ships ever to sail in formation down the Mersey. Liverpool is the companies spiritual home where they began back in 1840 and the history of Liverpool and Cunard have been closely linked ever since.

This pre-dates the foundation of the RNLI New Brighton lifeboat station established in 1863 although there had been lifeboat stations in the area since the 1770’s. Generations of lifeboat crews have watched the big Cunard liners come and go on the river.

After the event the RNLI lifeguards reported that there were many thousands of people on the beaches of Wirral and Crosby. They took preventative action keeping the sandbanks areas and groynes safe by escorting people to safe ground before the tide came in. On the beaches they were involved in providing information, advice plus first aid in two serious cases, dealing with reports of two missing persons plus responding along with the hovercraft to a potential mud rescue.

Dave Lowe Senior Helmsman at New Brighton said ‘It’s an honour for the RNLI and New Brighton Lifeboat station to be involved in this event celebrating Cunards 175 years of seafaring history. Like ourselves, Cunard have served the port of Liverpool and the River Mersey for many years and it’s fitting that the port is recognised by the three queens paying their respects to the City and the Cunard building that built Cunard into what it is today.’

He continued ‘It is also special in that we are on the Mersey with our sister stations Hoylake & Lytham St Anne’s. It is great viewing for the public and I’m sure that nautical enthusiasts will have been revelling in the amount of different vessels afloat today. We wish everyone an enjoyable bank holiday and a safe journey home’

Graham Sale Lifeboat Operations Manager at New Brighton said ‘ It was quite a spectacle watching those great ships sailing down the river and enthralling the crowd with superb seamanship as they manoeuvred into position opposite the Cunard Building. It was a great tribute to our charities dedicated volunteers and supporters that we formed part of the Queens escort and safety cover in the river as well as the RNLI providing vital safety cover on the coast on both sides of the river ‘

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