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Clifden Lifeboat Tows Naval Vessel In Training Exercise

16th August 2016
Clifden RNLI taking LÉ Orla under tow Clifden RNLI taking LÉ Orla under tow Photo: Naval Service

#RNLI - An unusual training exercise took place on Sunday (14 August) off the Connemara coastline involving the Naval Service vessel LÉ Orla and the volunteer crews of the Clifden RNLI lifeboats.

In calm conditions, RNLI volunteers and naval crew co-operated on a number of training exercises, beginning with a 'man overboard' scenario, in which the casualty was transferred by hoist from the LÉ Orla to the Mersey class all weather-lifeboat Fishermans Friend.

A RIB from the naval vessel was then recovered in the water and towed by the Atlantic 85 lifeboat helmed by Daniel Whelan with crew John Mullen, Gerry Claffey and Michael Carey.



Next up was a salvage operation exercise, where the lifeboat crew used their salvage pump onboard the Naval vessel which was supposedly adrift at the time.

"It was at this point it occurred to me that as part of a salvage operation we would normally tow the vessel in question," said Clifton RNLI coxswain David Barry, who requested and was granted permission to tow the 750-tonne OPV at 1,500 revs and 3.2 knots.

"Admittedly, conditions were very calm at the time, but we were all really delighted to have been able to successfully carry out a brief tow," he added. "In poorer conditions, we might have been able to at least keep the ship nose to sea.

"Overall, the day's exercises were a huge success for the whole crew and we are really grateful to the Irish Naval Service for facilitating these invaluable exercises."

To round off the exercise session, three Naval Service divers were recovered from the water by both lifeboats.

Since the introduction of the all-weather lifeboat to Clifden, the volunteer crew have undertaken many hours of advanced and innovative exercise scenarios intended to give the crew experience and competence.

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.

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.

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