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Newcastle RNLI Searches After Flare Sighting In Third Callout This Week

19th February 2016
Newcastle RNLI's Mersey class lifeboat breaking the waves off the Co Down coast Newcastle RNLI's Mersey class lifeboat breaking the waves off the Co Down coast Credit: RNLI/Nuala McAloon

#RNLI - Newcastle RNLI had their third call of the week last night (Thursday 18 February) with volunteers involved in a three-hour search operation after flares were sighted off the Co Down coast.

Newly appointed coxswain Alan Jones had the opportunity to put his RNLI training and skills to good use launching the lifeboat on service for a second time this week when the volunteer crew was requested at 7.30pm after flares were sighted from St John’s Point, in the Dundrum Bay area off Annalong.

The station’s all-weather lifeboat, which only an hour earlier had returned from passage after routine repairs, launched with six crew members on board. Weather conditions were described as good with a light swell and little wind as the lifeboat made its way in the dark but clear night.

Once on scene some eight miles from the lifeboat station and three miles off Annalong, the crew conducted an intensive search for three hours. Nothing untoward was found and the lifeboat was stood down at 10pm.

Earlier this week, Newcastle RNLI were requested to launch their all-weather lifeboat at 5.52am on Tuesday 16 February to assist injured crew member on a 70ft fishing vessel 18 miles south-west of the Isle of Man and 25 miles south-east of Newcastle.

On the first callout for coxswain Alan Jones, the lifeboat launched at 6.05am. Weather conditions at the time were described as gusty with southerly Force 6 winds blowing and rough seas.

The casualty was airlifted by the Irish Coast Guard helicopter Rescue 116 from Dublin, as previously reported on

The crew were also in action on Saturday evening (13 February) when they rescued four people after a 36ft angling boat suffered engine failure eight miles south east of St John’s Point.

Speaking following what has been a busy period for the station, Jones said: "Our volunteer lifeboat and shore crew responded with great enthusiasm to all three call outs this week, one of which was in the early hours of the morning.

"They all volunteer to save lives at sea and are prepared to drop what they are doing to help anyone who may be in difficulty in the water.

"We would always encourage anyone who finds themselves in trouble or thinks someone maybe in difficulty to raise the alarm. We would always rather launch and find nothing untoward than not launch at all."

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy is a contributor covering all things on the water, from boating and wildlife to science and business

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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.


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.

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