A new Atlantic 85 class lifeboat has gone on service at Sligo Bay RNLI. The lifeboat which arrived at the Rosses Point lifeboat station yesterday evening (Monday 16 November), replaces Elsinore, which has been used to save lives at sea on Sligo Bay since 2002.
Volunteer lifeboat crew began a week of familiarisation training this afternoon (Tuesday) with their first exercise on the Sheila and Dennis Tongue.
The new lifeboat has been funded through a legacy from the late Dennis Tongue, a native of Birmingham in England. The lifeboat is named after himself and his late wife Sheila. Dennis died at the age of 84 in February 2014 in his home which overlooked the Exe estuary near Exmouth, Devon where he had lived for about 25 years following his retirement. He was predeceased by Sheila who died in 2010.
Mr Tongue was the first in his family to go to university where he obtained an engineering degree. He had an inquisitive mind, loved all things mechanical and was responsible for some award winning designs within the company for which he worked most of life. His interests were wide and included ancient history, photography, bird watching, coin collecting, theatre and local modern classics. His interest in the work of the RNLI grew during his retirement years; he was interested in the mechanics and design of modern-day lifeboats and began to learn more of the work and history of the organisation with his frequent visits to the station in Exmouth. He and Sheila regularly supported the work of the RNLI with the annual purchases of calendars, Christmas cards and tea towels. They had no children and their decision to donate a significant part of their estate to the charity was made in recognition of the work of the RNLI in saving lives but also because of its being at the heart of the seaside community and adding to its character.
The Sheila and Dennis Tongue will be officially named at a special naming ceremony and service of dedication at Sligo Bay lifeboat station next year.
In its 13 years in Sligo, Elsinore launched 189 times, with its volunteer crew members rescuing 155 people, eight of whom were lives saved.
The new lifeboat has some advancement on its predecessor. The Atlantic 85 design allows room for four crew members and more kit than the Atlantic 75 lifeboat, which only had room for three crew members.
The lifeboat is powered by two 115 horse power engines and has a stronger hull and greater top speed of 35 knots. The added radar allows the crew to operate more effectively in poor visibility and there is also VHF direction-finding equipment.
The vessel also has a manually operated self-righting mechanism which combined with inversion-proofed engines keeps the lifeboat operational even after capsize. The lifeboat can also be beached in an emergency without causing damage to its engines or steering gear.
The Atlantic 85 which was introduced to the RNLI fleet in 2005 also carries a full suite of communication and electronic navigation aids, as well as a searchlight, night-vision equipment and flares for night-time operations.
Speaking following the arrival of the new lifeboat, Willie Murphy, Sligo Bay RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager said: ‘We are extremely grateful to Mr Tongue for his generous legacy donation which has funded our new lifeboat. Today’s excitement is naturally tinged with a sense of nostalgia as we bid a fond farewell to Elsinore who provided us with 13 great years of service. Elsinore came to us as a result of local fundraising and carried the name of WB Yeats uncle’s house which is located beside the lifeboat station and where Yeats stayed as a young boy. Elsinore’s time here in Sligo saved lives and brought many more people safely to shore and we hope the donor family will be just as proud as we are, of her many achievements.
‘We are looking forward to being the custodians of this new lifeboat which will allow our volunteers to go on to rescue and save many more lives in the years to come.’
The RNLI is a charity which relies on voluntary contributions and legacies.