#LIFEBOATS – RNLI Lifeboats in Ireland launched 980 times to a variety of call outs in 2011. 905 people were rescued over the course of the year by volunteer lifeboat crews who spent over 9,826 hours on service at sea.
Howth RNLI lifeboat station in Dublin was the busiest coastal Irish station, launching to 48 requests for help and, bringing 60 people to safety. They were followed by Crosshaven RNLI in Cork who launched 46 times and assisted 43 people. Enniskillen, one of Ireland’s two inland RNLI lifeboat stations which operates bases on both Upper and Lower Lough Erne, launched 52 times and brought 46 people to safety.
The busiest month for rescues was July with 155 launches followed by August with 124 calls for assistance. February 2011 was the busiest February for Irish launches in the RNLI’s history, as were May and October 2011.
Over a third of the RNLI’s call outs for last year were also carried out in darkness. The statistics show that launches to vessels suffering machinery failure still account for the largest number of call outs (187) followed by vessels reported to be in trouble (78), grounded (74) and capsizing (73).
Commenting on the 2011 statistics RNLI Deputy Divisional Inspector Gareth Morrison said: ‘Our lifeboat volunteers continue to show selfless dedication and commitment to saving lives. Some stations are extremely busy while others have less call outs but spend long hours at sea in awful conditions. There were some outstanding rescues last year including that to Rambler 100, in which Baltimore RNLI recovered 16 crew members off the upturned hull of the racing boat during the Fastnet race. Sadly there were also long searches for missing loved ones.
‘The work of the volunteer lifeboat crews could not be made possible without the generosity of the public who in difficult times continue to support Irish lifeboat crews. While these figures give an interesting insight into search and rescue by the RNLI on Irish waters they are by no means the full story. As well as working to save lives at sea the RNLI provides other programmes and services for the public including sea safety advice and clinics, education roadshows and visits to lifeboat stations.’
The 2011 figures are being released in the wake of the RNLI Lifejackets for Lifesavers campaign which will see every lifeboat station in Ireland take delivery of new specially designed lifejackets in September. The lifejackets have been commissioned by the RNLI for search and rescue work and have been given the seal of approval from lifeboat volunteers. The cost of providing the lifejackets for all 43 lifeboat stations in Ireland is estimated at €160,000.