The RNLI has taken the Peterhead lifeboat temporarily off service after a small number of volunteers were relieved of their duties.
The decision comes following a recent crew meeting, attended by senior RNLI operational personnel, which saw some of the crew continue to exhibit negative behaviours that have been challenged for many years.
A spokesperson for the RNLI said: “This action is a last resort and follows many attempts to tackle a lack of mutual trust, good communication and teamwork among the crew which has become so serious that the station is no longer capable of operating safely and effectively.
“The RNLI has put much time and resource into trying to support the volunteer crew and tackle the problems at Peterhead Lifeboat Station, including dedicated staff support and the use of a trained mediator.
“Attempts to recruit new staff and volunteers have failed.
“The RNLI has previously met with, and written to, some of those concerned to explain the type of behavioural changes that need to be made.
“Unfortunately, some crew members have been unable to work together to put the lifesaving service before their own personal rivalries and historic disagreements, resulting in the decision that they can no longer remain as part of the crew.”
The spokesperson added: “As an emergency service, the RNLI has a responsibility to ensure the safety of our crews, our partners and those whose lives we save. We can only help others if we work as a team and keep ourselves safe first.
“Maintaining high standards and adhering to required protocol and behaviours is the cornerstone of any emergency service. Trust between our crew members is an essential element of the lifesaving operation – our volunteers have to be able to rely on each other and work as a team when called out to deal with high risk and dynamic rescue operations.
“We are committed to our lifeboat station at Peterhead and are taking immediate action to resolve the situation.
“In the right environment, we are confident that the remaining crew can operate a safe, effective and sustainable rescue service and we will be working closely with them over the coming months to get the lifeboat back on service as quickly as possible.”
While the lifeboat is out of action any lifesaving cover will be provided by flanking stations at Fraserburgh and Aberdeen, along with other non-RNLI assets.
The Coastguard is fully aware of the situation.
The Fraserburgh and Aberdeen lifeboat stations will receive additional support during this time to allow the RNLI to maintain comprehensive 24/7 rescue cover.
Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said: “The RNLI and the volunteers who help to staff it do a tremendous job all-year-round to provide support.
“There are many committed volunteers and I know how hard they all work. The RNLI is highly regarded throughout the North-East and in Peterhead by the whole community.
“I hope this matter is resolved soon and will extend any support I can in doing so.”
Banff and Buchan MP David Duguid added: “It is very concerning to hear that the Peterhead lifeboat has been taken off-service, albeit only on a temporary basis.
“Our RNLI volunteer crews do a fantastic job and are frequently called into action along the Banff and Buchan coast.
“I cannot comment on any internal issues, but I hope that a way through the current difficulties can be found.
“I will be seeking a meeting with the RNLI to offer what assistance I can as the local MP.
“I sincerely hope that the lifeboat will be back in service as soon as possible.”