A LIFEBOAT crew from Suffolk braved the roughest weather conditions seen during any rescue out of 3,500 callouts nationwide, it has been revealed.

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Number of RNLI callouts in Suffolk (June 1 to August 31)

2011

Lowestoft - ALB 6 / ILB 0

Southwold - ALB 0 / ILB 9

Aldeburgh - ALB 2 / ILB 1

2012

Lowestoft - ALB 16 / ILB 0

Southwold - ALB 0 / ILB 7

Aldeburgh - ALB 11 / ILB 7

Key: ALB: All-weather lifeboat. ILB: Inshore lifeboat

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) said its volunteers from Aldeburgh were faced with the toughest test when they launched on June 8 this year. The crew went out in force 9-10 conditions to help a 13-metre Dutch yacht with four crewmen onboard.

The vessel had struck the Aldeburgh Ridge and lost her rudder and - working alongside a RAF rescue helicopter - the lifeboat managed to tow the yacht to safety.

Meanwhile on July 22 a volunteer crew from Lowestoft saved 11 people from a sinking dive boat while on exercise near the town’s harbour. Four people were trapped in the wheelhouse with waters rising rapidly, before they were able to escape through a small window.

The RNLI has released its summer statistics for 2012, which show lifeboat crews in Suffolk bucked the national trend with a rise in callouts.

In Aldeburgh crews were sent to the rescue 18 times between June 1 and August 31, compared to three for the same period last year. In Southwold there were seven callouts, compared to nine the year before and in Lowestoft there were 16 rescues, compared to six in 2011.

Overall the number of callouts more than doubled - from 18 in 2011 to 41 this summer.

Andrew Ashton, RNLI divisional inspector for the east, said: “Once again our dedicated volunteer crews have given their time and commitment to saving lives at sea around the Suffolk coast this summer.

“Rescues such as those at Aldeburgh and Lowestoft show the difficult and sometimes distressing conditions that crews are called upon to face, day or night, from the moment the pager sounds.”

Nationally RNLI lifeboats launched 3,575 times this summer, a slight drop on last year’s total of 3,633.

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