HC Deb 28 October 1953 vol 518 cc2800-1
Captain Duncan

(by Private Notice) asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation if he has any statement to make about the loss of the Arbroath lifeboat.

The Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation (Mr. Alan Lennox-Boyd)

Yes, Sir. The Arbroath lifeboat put out shortly before 1 a.m. on Tuesday to answer distress rockets which were seen at sea about three miles from Fife Ness. The weather at the time was very severe. No sign of any vessel in distress was found but the steamer "Island Magee" which left the Tay for Leith on Monday is overdue. At about 5 a.m. the lifeboat arrived off the harbour entrance at Arbroath and apparently the coxswain approached the bar to examine conditions more closely.

At about 5.45 the lifeboat's lights suddenly disappeared and shouts were heard from the water. The Arbroath coastguard and members of the Life Saving Company fired lines across the men in the water and one member of the lifeboat's crew was hauled ashore alive. The body of the coxswain was found lashed to the wheel of the overturned lifeboat which was later washed ashore and I understand that the bodies of the other five members of the crew have all been recovered. Three other bodies have been washed ashore and two were today identified as those of members of the crew of the "Island Magee."

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution has begun an inquiry into the causes of this tragic accident to the lifeboat and the House will, I know, wish me to express its deep sympathy with the families of all the brave men who have lost their lives.

Captain Duncan

I thank my right hon. Friend for that sympathy.

Mr. Hoy

On behalf of my right hon. and hon. Friends, I should like to associate myself with what has been said by the hon. Member for Angus, South (Captain Duncan) and the Minister. As one who represents a Scottish port, I should like to pay my tribute to the courage and valour of the men who, without fear, man the lifeboats of our country, and whose only reward can be the protection of those who sail the seas.

It is reported that the lifeboat went to the aid of a cargo vessel sailing to the port of Leith, which is unfortunately now feared lost with six men on board, three of whom resided in Leith, two in Dundee and one in Aberdeen. If our worst fears prove to be correct, I am certain that the whole House would wish also to convey its sympathy to the wives and families of these men.