The independent Ferryside Lifeboat is to receive funding for a new rescue hovercraft, believed to be the first of its kind in Wales

A new rescue hovercraft will soon be used to help save those stranded on the Towy Estuary in south Wales.

The independent Ferryside Lifeboat has just announced it is to receive a government grant of £30,800 for the new craft, which will run alongside the existing lifeboat.

The money has come from the Department of Transport, Inshore and Inland Rescue Boat Grant Scheme 2016/17.

Ferryside Lifeboat operates in an area of three tidal river estuaries – at low tide, this means a large expanse of sand banks, mudflats, and meandering rivers often impossible to reach by boat or wheeled vehicle.

Commenting, the senior coxswain of the Ferryside inshore lifeboat, Anthony Rees, said: “This is excellent news for Ferryside Lifeboat and the community. It will enhance our operating capabilities significantly and allow for a comprehensive 24/7 SAR service at any state of the tide.”

“This will also allow us to become part of the national flood rescue response,” he added.

The funding has also been welcomed by HM Coastguard.

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Maritime operations specialist, Robert James, who is based at HM Coastguard Milford Haven, said: “We recognise the lifesaving potential of a rescue hovercraft in this area and are delighted that this funding means Ferryside Lifeboat’s operational capabilities will be extended.”

Ferryside Lifeboat and HM Coastguard will now work closely over the coming months to develop the skills, experience and operating procedures needed to operate the new hovercraft.

This will involve expanding crew training, surveying the local environment and gaining an understanding of the hovercraft’s performance in different weather conditions.

There will also be the need to add further equipment, as well as the costs of operating and maintaining the new hovercraft.

The divisional officer in charge and coxswain of Ferryside Marine Division, St Johns Cymru Wales, Mike Utting, said: “The hovercraft will provide an amazing and unique asset for St John’s Cymru Wales and I am proud of the effort crew have made to extend the capabilities of the rescue service.”

So far, the Ferryside Lifeboat has been called out 14 times this year.