Helicopter launched following concerns for person drifting on an inflatable ring in Bognor

The Littlehampton lifeboat crew was launched
The Littlehampton lifeboat crew was launched

A multi-agency response was sparked earlier this week following reports of a person last seen floating on an inflatable ring near Bognor seafront.

The man had been observed drifting to the west and there was concern for his safety, according to a spokesman for the Littlehampton lifeboat crew.

The Littlehampton RNLI’s Atlantic B Class lifeboat Renee Sherman was launched at 1.13pm on Tuesday (September 17) and arrived on the scene within 20 minutes.

An initial search revealed no indication of a person in the water, so the HM Coastguard provided co-ordinates for the lifeboat's volunteer crew to undertake a search parallel to the coast in the light wind conditions with good visibility, the spokesman said.

HM Coastguard then escalated the search to a multi-agency response, requesting the launch of the Selsey RNLI inshore D Class lifeboat Betty and Thomas Moore and the HM Coastguard helicopter, the spokesman confirmed.

Using predictive tidal models for the time of day and wind conditions, the search was directed to the west of Bognor where any potential casualty may have been carried.

Following a 90 minute operation, witness reports of a man seen leaving the water at Aldwick, a mile or so to the west of Bognor, enabled the police to confirm that the man was safe and well at home ‘enjoying a cup of tea’, confirmed the spokesman.

The search operation was stood down at 3.17pm and at 4.09pm Renee Sherman and her crew were back at the Littlehampton RNLI boat house.

Jon Prater, Deputy Launch Authority, said: ‘It was a hot and sunny afternoon with light winds, but even in these conditions it is easy to drift a long way from shore and get in to difficulty.

"Fortunately on this occasion a member of the public did the right thing in reporting their concerns for the well being of a person seen on the water and we are pleased that the shout ended without incident.

"The RNLI is an independent charity committed to saving lives at sea and we would always suggest any enjoyment of the water, even in the calmest conditions, is undertaken with a clear knowledge of the local tides, winds and risks to personal safety."

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