Morecambe Bay cockling tragedy: Lifeboat callouts drop since 2004

The RNLI hovercraft.
The RNLI hovercraft.

Emergency Morecambe lifeboat and hovercraft callouts hit a 15-year high during the year of the cockling tragedy, statistics have revealed.

In 2004 the town’s lifeboat was launched 44 times and the hovercraft 43 times.

The number of callouts to the Morecambe Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) crew has since fallen considerably.

A spokesman for the RNLI said the crackdown on cockling in Morecambe Bay in the aftermath of the disaster was a major reason for the drop in emergency call outs.

Lifeboat and hovercraft launches fell by over half in 2005 compared to 2004.

Last year the inshore lifeboat was launched 17 times and the hovercraft 22, a total of 38 fewer than in the year of the tragedy.

The Morecambe RNLI ‘Hurley Flyer’ hovercraft was introduced alongside the inshore lifeboat in 2003, the year before the tragedy. That year the lifeboat was launched 26 times and the hovercraft on 16 occasions.

The quietest year for Morecambe lifeboat and hovercraft launches during the period of 1999-2013 was 2012.

In total the lifeboat responded to calls on 325 occasions between 1999 and 2013, and the hovercraft 251 times between 2003 and 2013.

A total of 292 people have been rescued by the crews over the past 15 years, 172 by the lifeboat and 120 by the hovercraft. Fifty two of those, it is believed, would have died but for the RNLI’s intervention.