Lifeboat Station In a Shipping Container?
We’ve touched on some great uses for shipping containers here at the Gateway Gazette. Here’s one of the most purposeful: a lifeboat station in a shipping container. This isn’t some rusty box dragged onto a beach, but is one where the entire lifeboat station and boat are built in the UK and donated to countries where it is needed. Just add crew!
Background to the story
London university lecturer Robin Jenkins was in Japan, visiting a town that was affected by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. He was told stories by locals of how there was no one to rescue people who had been dragged out to sea by the waves. They had to watch and listen helplessly to their friends and family members drown.
Japan is a highly organised society and has one of the biggest economies in the world. Why doesn’t it have the resources? Traditionally sea rescues were carried out by the military coastguard who were completely overwhelmed by the disaster and couldn’t be deployed everywhere they were needed.
Jenkins is a Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) volunteer, which relies on people who live and work within 5 minutes of a station in the UK. If his pager goes off while giving a lecture, he walks out and does his duty. Jenkins came to the conclusion that should Japan have a similar system, then locals may be able to rescue their neighbours in future tsunamis.
Networks and contacts
Jenkins is an alumnus of the United World College of the Atlantic in Llantwit Major, Wales. While he was there the school had an RNLI inshore lifeboat station. He got in touch with his old school friends and the school itself (that no longer has a station) and together they formed the Atlantic Pacific International Rescue Project.
The idea of the project was to design and build a lifeboat station and lifeboat that could be transported to a location and set up on site. Locals would then be trained to the high standards of the RNLI and then set free to do the good work of rescuing those in peril on the sea.
Back in the UK, Jenkins got together with his old friends and designed the system. A 40ft shipping container houses the whole thing. While a storage box that is sent abroad to its final destination, it is also used on site to great effect. There are three sections – a crew room for the crew to put on their drysuits and safety equipment, a control room to coordinate the rescue and then the boathouse itself, which stores the 4.8 metre rigid inflatable (RIB) lifeboat.
The summer after founding the project, the team set up a summer school to train the trainers. Some would go on to work saving migrants crossing the Mediterranean to Europe. Others would train locals in Japan.
The shipping container lifeboat station was sent out to Japan, where after dealing with mind boggling bureaucracy, the first station was set up. This proved a success and Japan is currently setting up their own equivalent of the UK RNLI. Hopefully in a few years there will be a network of volunteer supported lifeboat stations that can rescue people on every stretch of Japan’s vast coastline.
This lifeboat projet relies entirely on volunteers and voluntary donations, but even so isn’t cheap as chips. The team estimate that it costs around US $150,000 per shipping container lifeboat station with fully trained crew. One has to ask, what price is a life?
Atlantic Pacific are now looking at going into Mozambique, a poor African country with a relatively stable political climate and a high rate of drownings at sea. If you want to know more about this organisation and perhaps offer them some support, visit their website at www.atlanticpacific.org.uk.
Gateway Container Sales
Gateway Container Sales has years of experience in shipping container conversions and can help you create your mobile, multi-container space that meets your exacting needs. Contact us today and we can put you in touch with our network of experts who can help you with your logistics, storage and workshop operation – wherever you may need to go in the world.