Three RNLI lifeboats from the Isle of Man and three from Northern Ireland took part in a major maritime exercise 15 miles off the coast of Northern Ireland on Saturday to test the effectiveness and familiarisation of search and rescue techniques with multiple lifeboats over a large scale area.
Belfast Coastguard coordinated the exercise from their Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre in Bangor.
The scenario involved the rapid sinking of a small passenger vessel with 30 people onboard.
The lifeboats tasked to respond came from Donaghadee, Portaferry and Newcastle in Northern Ireland and Peel, Port St Mary and Port Erin.
The role of the casualties were played by lifeboat crew, search and rescue mannequins and numbered oranges. The oranges added an extra challenge for the lifeboat crews as they can be quite difficult to locate in large open seas and really test the search techniques of the volunteer lifeboat crews.
The exercise started just before 9am and continued until 12.45pm.
Both all-weather and inshore RNLI lifeboats took part in the scenario with a total of 34 lifeboat crew participating. Conditions on the day were challenging with a strong south west wind and moderate to rough seas.
Gareth Morrison, RNLI divisional operations manager, said: ‘These major search and rescue scenarios are of huge importance to the RNLI.
‘Our lifeboat crews never stop training for every scenario and outcome.
‘This weekend was an opportunity to have six lifeboat crews from different areas, work together in the event off a major incident involving a large number of casualties.
‘These types of callouts are sadly not uncommon and every exercise to prepare the volunteer crews is welcome.’