East meets west at lifeboat station

Japanese coastguard trainees with Shoreham lifeboat crew on board the all-weather lifeboat
Japanese coastguard trainees with Shoreham lifeboat crew on board the all-weather lifeboat

ROOKIE Japanese coastguards saw how Shoreham’s lifeboat crew carries out life saving at sea during a visit on Sunday.

Three men and two women from Japan Coast Guard visited the lifeboat station on Kingston Beach, continuing an annual tradition, which is now in its 11th year.

The trainees, who are based in London during a two-week exchange visit, travelled to Shoreham to find out how maritime search and rescue in the UK and Ireland differs from in their native land.

Extremely rough conditions from Hurricane Bertha put paid to a training exercise on the water this year. But the group was still able to see around the lifeboat station and chat with the crew.

Volunteer crew member Rob Cullen said the annual visit provided an excellent learning opportunity for both parties and he revealed the one thing which, year in year out, never failed to amaze the students.

“The Japanese trainees are always shocked that RNLI lifeboats are crewed entirely by volunteers,” he explained.

“I suppose that because the Japanese government runs their coastguard, they expect to find a similar set-up in other countries.”

He said the organisation initially chose Shoreham because it is one of the most straightforward lifeboat stations on the coast to visit

“It is only an hour and a half on the train from London and our railway station is a short walk from the lifeboat station. I think the fact that this visit is now in its 11th year proves how useful the Japanese coastguard trainees find it.”

Established in 1948, the Japan Coast Guard is a government organisation responsible for search and rescue, security of territorial waters and law enforcement at sea.

The agency also has its own training academy in Hiroshima, called the Japan Coast Guard Academy, an educational institute which trains students to become officers and future leading members.