The former Senator heading up the Jersey Lifeboat Association has announced he is stepping down as Chair, as the charity continues working to regain its status as a search-and-rescue operator.
Ben Shenton confirmed that fellow council member Simon O’Donoghue has now taken up the position and would lead discussions with the Island’s maritime authorities about whether the JLA could resume official operations.
The charity’s suspension came into force at the end of 2021 after its all-weather vessel, Sir Max Aitken III, hit rocks near Noirmont while the crew were on their way to assist a French yacht.
Mr Shenton, who has chaired the JLA since it was formally created around five years ago, said he felt the time had come for someone else to take his place – and that he hoped that a ‘fresh approach might help move things forward’. He added that he would remain a member of the charity’s council.
Discussions with Ports of Jersey have continued throughout the organisation’s suspension – with meetings taking place as recently as last week – but there is currently no update about when the JLA might be utilised as a search-and-rescue operator again.
Mr Shenton said his decision to step down was partly linked to frustration that the situation was still ongoing.
"We’ve been suspended for [more than] a year now and haven’t been able to get up and running.
"He [Simon O’Donoghue] is going to lead the negotiations with Ports. He is a competent person and maybe a fresh pair of eyes and a fresh approach might help to move things forward," he added.
Mr O’Donoghue said: "My job is to sort that [situation] out and make sure that we are an asset for the Island. We have a very experienced crew and they need to be out there."
He added: "It’s just a tick-box exercise really – we don’t think there are any extra bits holding it up. I would hope that we will be back online within the next month."
JLA crew members – operating in an unofficial capacity – were among those who helped search for fishermen Michael Michieli and Filipino crew members Jervis Ramirez Baligat and Larry Simyunn last month.
Pictured: JLA crew members were involved in the search for the three fishermen on L'Ecume II (pictured above), which sunk last month. (Rob Currie)
All three men died following a collision between their fishing boat – L’Ecume II – and Condor’s Commodore Goodwill freight ship off Jersey’s west coast at about 05:30 on Thursday 8 December. JLA coxswain Andy Hibbs was a friend of Mr Michieli.
Mr Shenton discusses the JLA in further detail in his latest column in today's JEP... For a limited time only, sign up NOW to get the JEP digital edition for just 39p per edition...
Pictured top: Outgoing JLA Chair Ben Shenton. (Jon Guegan)
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