Almost £90,000 has been spent on an aircraft rescue boat which hasn’t been used since it was purchased in 2019.

The Infrastructure Minister, Tim Crookall, has said that the high standard of training required to operate the vessel is the reason for it not being in use.

In addition to the sum paid for the vessel, a further £58,000 was spent on a replacement slipway in Derbyhaven for the rescue boat to launch from.

The Inshore Rescue Boat (IRB) is primarily designed to enable a swift response to an incident in the sea, from where life-rafts can be deployed.

The boat is operated by the Isle of Man Airport Fire and Rescue Service, which falls under the Department of Infrastructure.

The vessel was bought in October 2019, for £87,057, as a replacement vessel for the preceding rescue boat which was decommissioned in 2016.

The following year, in 2020, the slipway, used during emergencies and exercises at Isle of Man Airport, was no longer deemed suitable for the airport fire station’s rescue boat.

That’s despite the vessel not being in operation.

Therefore a new slipway was installed in September 2020.

Having been questioned on the matter in the House of Keys, Mr Crookall said: ‘The Inshore Rescue Boat is not operational, and the airport has not had an operational IRB for some time.

‘The standard of training required to deploy the boat is very high, This makes it a challenge for the airport fire services personnel to maintain the necessary skill levels for its operation.

‘In the case of an emergency the IRB cannot be mobilised because of training needs, and the requirement for all staff members to keep competency based training up to date’, he added.

Two agreements are in place between the Isle of Man Coastguard and the Royal National Lifeboat Institute (RNLI), along with the Maritime Coastguard Agency have been established, which are in place should an aircraft ‘ditch’, according to Mr Crookall.

Asked for the current location of the vessel, Mr Crookall said that he didn’t know.

Although a spokesperson for the Department of Infrastructure has later confirmed that it is being stored at the airport.

The DoI spokesperson later confirmed that the current Inshore Rescue Boat has never been in operation.

The spokesperson reiterated: ‘Achieving and maintaining the required competency-based training for personnel operating outside their primary role as airport firefighters presents a significant challenge.’

But asked why the Department of Infrastructure would procure a vessel which has not been operational for four years, the spokesperson said: ‘The decision to acquire a rescue boat hinges on a range of considerations, encompassing the department’s evaluation of existing and anticipated operational requirements, advancements in technology and adherence to safety standards. Changes in recent years to training and competency criteria have led to the potential operational status of the boat being reassessed.

Jason Moorhouse, who asked the question in the House of Keys said: ‘The cost of the craft and the improvement works cost almost £150,000 and this was part of a relatively recent scheme.

‘It was a significant investment by the island’s Government and given that fact, it would have been interesting to have had a clearer update on what the craft has actually been doing and where she has been stored since her arrival in the island.’

He added: ‘It is another unfortunate example of what is promoted as a must have, not currently meeting our expectations.’