Health and Safety or Saving Lives - which is more important?
A volunteer coastguard crew face disciplinary action after going to the rescue of a teenage swimmer in a boat that had recently been repaired and was awaiting a seaworthiness inspection.
The four crewmen were on duty at Hope Cove in South Devon when the 15-year-old girl was swept out to sea by a powerful rip tide. They braved heavy surf to launch their 17ft rigid inflatable.
The girl was rescued by a diver and the coastguard crew brought her ashore.
The boat had been out of service since June and the 11-strong crew, fed up with waiting for it to be repaired by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), spent £2,000 of their own money on the work. But the repairs had yet to be approved and the boat - which has rescued more than 120 people since 2000 – was languishing in the boathouse at the pretty fishing village awaiting a further inspection.
Within three hours the boat was towed away by a senior MCA officer and is now locked in a garage at their office five miles away in Kingsbridge.
A spokesman for the MCA said: “The health and safety of the boat crews and those who they may render assistance to is of paramount importance. We have identified serious breaches of health and safety procedures and they are currently being investigated. The boat has been stood down for a further eight weeks while we investigate.