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First RNLI Shannon Class Lifeboat in Ireland to Arrive into Lough Swilly, County Donegal

2nd April 2015
First RNLI Shannon Class Lifeboat in Ireland to Arrive into Lough Swilly, County Donegal

#rnli – Lifeboat crew from Lough Swilly RNLI are currently onboard the station's new €2.4 million Shannon class lifeboat and en route to its permanent home in Donegal from the charity's headquarters in Poole. As Afloat reported earlier, he new lifeboat is the first of its class to be put on service in Ireland and the first to be named after an Irish river, the previous classes are all called after UK rivers. 

The lifeboat crew are being accompanied on the journey by RNLI staff coxswain Martin Philips, who is using the long passage home as an opportunity to continue with the training programme for the state of the art lifeboat. On the last leg of the passage the crew will be joined by RNLI Divisional Operations Manager Darren Byers but the honour of taking the lifeboat into Lough Swilly will fall to the station Coxswain, Mark Barnett. The crew got a preview of the boat in build last November.

The station is hoping for a large turnout at the Buncrana pier as the new lifeboat arrives into the harbour at noon on Friday 10 April, to take up residence on the Donegal coastline. The lifeboat is named Derek Bullivant and has been largely funded through a legacy from Mr Bullivant who hailed from Bewdley, Worcestershire, UK and who passed away in September 2011.

The Shannon is the latest class of all-weather lifeboat to join the RNLI fleet and the first to be propelled by waterjets instead of traditional propellers, making it the most agile and manoeuvrable all-weather lifeboat in the fleet. Waterjets allow the vessel to operate in shallow waters and be intentionally beached.

The new lifeboat was developed to operate in the worst of sea conditions and is self-righting, automatically turning the right side up in the event of a capsize. Its unique hull is designed to minimise slamming of the boat in heavy seas and the shock-absorbing seats further protect the crew from impact when powering through the waves. The lifeboat has a top speed of 25 knots and a range of 250 nautical miles, which makes it ideal for offshore searches and rescues in calm and rough seas.

Commenting from onboard the Shannon lifeboat, Lough Swilly RNLI Coxswain Mark Barnett said, 'This day has been a long time coming for our lifeboat station and it is one that is very emotional for all of us. The arrival of a new lifeboat is a huge investment in the community by the RNLI. It's not just a financial investment but it is also an investment in our lifeboat crew, the people who live here and the people who use the waters around our station, whether locally based or just passing through.

This will be its home for many years to come and it will be launched on countless rescues and save many lives. We would also like to express our gratitude to the late Mr Derek Bullivant, whose name is proudly displayed on our lifeboat and whose generosity made this possible.'

Once the lifeboat is on station, training will continue for the remaining volunteer lifeboat crew at Lough Swilly RNLI before the lifeboat is officially put on service and the previous one is retired into the relief fleet.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
Afloat.ie Team

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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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