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Donaghadee RNLI Crew Members to Receive Awards

9th April 2010
Donaghadee RNLI Crew Members to Receive Awards

Seven lifeboat Crew Members from Donaghadee RNLI lifeboat station are to be recognised by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution for their part in an early morning rescue that took place in horrendous weather conditions and resulted in three lives being saved.  The callout happened just after 2am on the morning of 13 September 2009, when the yacht Bentim Buoys with three crew onboard was on passage from the Isle of Man to Bangor and ran aground.

Coxswain Philip McNamara is to be accorded the Thanks of the Institution on Vellum while Deputy Second Coxswain John Ashwood, Mechanic Shane McNamara, Crew Members Stephen McComiskey, David McCormack, Richard McGimpsey, and John Petrie will each receive a Vellum Service Certificate. The Vellum award from the RNLI is for services that show great skill and expertise by the lifeboat crew, often carried out in very difficult condition.

The service lasted just under four hours but in that time the lifeboat crew had to deal with deteriorating weather conditions, which were battering the lifeboat and the grounded vessel. They also had to plan and put into practice several attempts to bring the crew and the vessel to the safety of Donaghadee harbour when the worsening seas prevented the standard rescue procedures.

At 2.15 am on the morning of 13 September 2009 the lifeboat crew’s pagers were activated to go to the aid of a 10 metre yacht which had run aground on Craig Brain Rocks. En route to the scene the lifeboat met with poor weather conditions. Once exposed to open water the wind was force 5 with the swell reaching 2 metres and worsening.  As the lifeboat crew approached the yacht they could see it was in imminent danger of breaking up.

Lifeboat Coxswain Philip McNamara used great skill in manoeuvring the lifeboat in difficult seas. Two lifeboat crew launched a small craft from the lifeboat, which allows close access to the shore. From that Richard McGimpsey and David McCormack attempted to board the vessel but they were swept out into the sea and had to return to the lifeboat using paddles. The crew on the casualty vessel were unable to leave their yacht and so the decision was taken by the Coxswain to attempt to establish a tow and drag the yacht off the rocks, hoping that the vessel would float.

Several attempts were made to establish a line from the lifeboat to the yacht, which  were severely hampered by the weather. Finally at 3.30am a line was established  and secured onto the yacht. The vessel started to come upright but the line parted.  Lifeboat Mechanic Shane McNamara had prepared a second towline and finally at 3.39am the yacht came upright, moved along the rocks and refloated. However the  tow then parted and the yacht was cast adrift and in great danger of grounding a second time.

The lifeboat crew reacted immediately and recovered the towline. The Coxswain once again manoeuvred the lifeboat close to the yacht and the tow was re-established. The yacht and her three shaken crew were then taken back to Donaghadee with no serious injuries.

Commenting on the service RNLI Divisional Inspector for Ireland Martyn Smith said,  ‘These vellums are well deserved for what was an extraordinary service, resulting in three lives being saved. Split second decisions were made by the Coxswain in horrendous conditions. The lifeboat crew were operating in an area where local knowledge was vital and they used this to great effect. The Coxswain also had to manoeuvre the lifeboat very carefully, as the lifeboat crew attempted to bring the yacht and her crew to safety.

‘This all happened in the middle of the night and under very challenging conditions.  With the lifeboat rolling in heavy seas various scenarios and options were worked out by the crew, which ultimately ensured the safe recovery of the three men and their yacht. I want to pay tribute to the lifeboat crew lead by Coxswain Philip McNamara for this incredible service.”

The presentation of the awards to the lifeboat crew will be made later in the year.

 

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Royal National Lifeboat Institute (RNLI) in Ireland Information

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) is a charity to save lives at sea in the waters of UK and Ireland. Funded principally by legacies and donations, the RNLI operates a fleet of lifeboats, crewed by volunteers, based at a range of coastal and inland waters stations. Working closely with UK and Ireland Coastguards, RNLI crews are available to launch at short notice to assist people and vessels in difficulties.

RNLI was founded in 1824 and is based in Poole, Dorset. The organisation raised €210m in funds in 2019, spending €200m on lifesaving activities and water safety education. RNLI also provides a beach lifeguard service in the UK and has recently developed an International drowning prevention strategy, partnering with other organisations and governments to make drowning prevention a global priority.

Irish Lifeboat Stations

There are 46 lifeboat stations on the island of Ireland, with an operational base in Swords, Co Dublin. Irish RNLI crews are tasked through a paging system instigated by the Irish Coast Guard which can task a range of rescue resources depending on the nature of the emergency.

Famous Irish Lifeboat Rescues

Irish Lifeboats have participated in many rescues, perhaps the most famous of which was the rescue of the crew of the Daunt Rock lightship off Cork Harbour by the Ballycotton lifeboat in 1936. Spending almost 50 hours at sea, the lifeboat stood by the drifting lightship until the proximity to the Daunt Rock forced the coxswain to get alongside and successfully rescue the lightship's crew.

32 Irish lifeboat crew have been lost in rescue missions, including the 15 crew of the Kingstown (now Dun Laoghaire) lifeboat which capsized while attempting to rescue the crew of the SS Palme on Christmas Eve 1895.

FAQs

While the number of callouts to lifeboat stations varies from year to year, Howth Lifeboat station has aggregated more 'shouts' in recent years than other stations, averaging just over 60 a year.

Stations with an offshore lifeboat have a full-time mechanic, while some have a full-time coxswain. However, most lifeboat crews are volunteers.

There are 46 lifeboat stations on the island of Ireland

32 Irish lifeboat crew have been lost in rescue missions, including the 15 crew of the Kingstown (now Dun Laoghaire) lifeboat which capsized while attempting to rescue the crew of the SS Palme on Christmas Eve 1895

In 2019, 8,941 lifeboat launches saved 342 lives across the RNLI fleet.

The Irish fleet is a mixture of inshore and all-weather (offshore) craft. The offshore lifeboats, which range from 17m to 12m in length are either moored afloat, launched down a slipway or are towed into the sea on a trailer and launched. The inshore boats are either rigid or non-rigid inflatables.

The Irish Coast Guard in the Republic of Ireland or the UK Coastguard in Northern Ireland task lifeboats when an emergency call is received, through any of the recognised systems. These include 999/112 phone calls, Mayday/PanPan calls on VHF, a signal from an emergency position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB) or distress signals.

The Irish Coast Guard is the government agency responsible for the response to, and co-ordination of, maritime accidents which require search and rescue operations. To carry out their task the Coast Guard calls on their own resources – Coast Guard units manned by volunteers and contracted helicopters, as well as "declared resources" - RNLI lifeboats and crews. While lifeboats conduct the operation, the coordination is provided by the Coast Guard.

A lifeboat coxswain (pronounced cox'n) is the skipper or master of the lifeboat.

RNLI Lifeboat crews are required to follow a particular development plan that covers a pre-agreed range of skills necessary to complete particular tasks. These skills and tasks form part of the competence-based training that is delivered both locally and at the RNLI's Lifeboat College in Poole, Dorset

 

While the RNLI is dependent on donations and legacies for funding, they also need volunteer crew and fund-raisers.

© Afloat 2020

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