The figures are being released by the charity following returns of service from all 44 lifeboat stations in Ireland. The figures also show that the majority of callouts were to pleasure craft, which accounted for 482 of the callouts, while launches to fishing vessels were 115.
Dun Laoghaire RNLI brought the highest number of people to safety with 76 individuals rescued by their volunteer lifeboat crews during 46 callouts. They were followed by Kilmore Quay RNLI in Co Wexford, who brought 71 people to safety on 29 callouts.
The busiest RNLI lifeboat station in Ireland last year was Bangor in Co Down, which launched 53 times and rescued 53 people. Over half of their callouts were carried out in the hours of darkness.
Other busy stations include Crosshaven RNLI in Cork where lifeboat crews launched their inshore lifeboat 42 times and rescued 31 people. Baltimore RNLI – who, along with Kilmore Quay RNLI, operate Ireland's two Tamar class lifeboats, the most technologically advanced lifeboat in the Irish fleet – launched their two lifeboats 41 times, rescuing 41 people. They also carried out almost three quarters of their callouts in the hours of darkness. The second Dublin all weather lifeboat station, based in Howth, launched 40 times and rescued 48 people.
The RNLI's newest lifeboat station at Coosan Point, Athlone on Lough Ree, which is currently on a one year trial from last June, had a busy first six months launching 14 times and bringing 18 people to safety.
The charity's lifeboat crews also had 122 callouts to people classed as ´ashore`. This figure incorporates launches to people who are ill or injured on an island, cliff or the shoreline, where access by lifeboat is the fastest or safest way to reach the casualty. It also includes medical evacuations from the islands off the coast of Ireland by lifeboat, which is a vital part of the service given by lifeboat stations such as Arranmore Island in Co Donegal and the Aran Islands off Co Galway.
In comparison with the 2011 statistics, 2012 saw a slight drop in lifeboat launches from 983 to 939 but a rise in people rescued from 906 to 1,041, an increase of 135 in the twelve month period.
Martyn Smith, RNLI operations manager for Ireland, says: 'The figures show that our volunteers dedicate a huge amount of their time to saving lives at sea. To know that they are on call every day of the year is reassuring for all of us who venture out to sea and on loughs around Ireland.
'While many callouts can be challenging, our volunteer lifeboat crews take the responsibility of bringing loved ones home very seriously. As the figures show, last year they were able to do that for 1,041 people.
"Not every callout is to save a life but the comfort and reassurance our volunteer crews bring to those in trouble is something the RNLI is very proud of and will continue to provide through the generosity of the public. I would like to say a huge "thank you" to all those who support the RNLI, whether by giving up their time or by making a donation.'
Key RNLI figures in 2012:
- On average 20 people a week were rescued by RNLI lifeboat crew in Ireland
- Altogether Irish lifeboat crews spent over ten thousand hours at sea on callouts.
- 51% of lifeboat launches were to power, sail and manual pleasure craft
- 14% of lifeboat launches were to commercial craft (fishing boats and other commercial vessels)
- 200 of the lifeboat launches were to boats with mechanical failure
- 73 callouts were to stranded or grounded vessels