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Donaghadee RNLI Assists Eight People After Lifeboat Launches Three Times in 25 Hours  

25th June 2018
Donaghadee RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat Saxon was on scene to the fishing vessel within five minutes Donaghadee RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat Saxon was on scene to the fishing vessel within five minutes Credit: RNLI

Donaghadee RNLI volunteer crew were paged three times over the weekend to assist a 24m fishing vessel which had run aground, a 31–ft yacht with three people onboard which had broken down and a small speedboat on the rocks at Millisle.

The first launch was requested by Belfast Coastguard on Saturday last (23 June) at 7.32pm following a 999 call by a member of the public reporting that a fishing vessel had run ashore on the north side of the ‘Perch’, located just of the Warren Road in Donaghadee.

Donaghadee RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat Saxon was on scene to the fishing vessel within five minutes. After consultation with the crew of the fishing vessel, which had five people onboard, and establishing that the boat had no damage, the crew of the 14m Trent class lifeboat attached a towline to the stern of the fishing boat to attempt to pull it off the rocks. The towline was then moved to the bow of the boat in another attempt to remove her from the rocks. With the assistance of the casualty vessel dropping its trawl doors to the seabed to jettison some weight, using both their bow thrusters and main propulsion to assist, the vessel came free and the lifeboat was able to tow it to deep water. 

When the skipper of the fishing boat was satisfied that there was no obvious damage to the hull or propeller the towline was removed and retrieved and the vessel continued her passage south while the lifeboat returned to station. 

The second launch of the weekend for the volunteer crew was when their pagers were alerted at 3.02pm at the request of Belfast Coastguard to assist 30ft yacht which had broken down approximately four nautical miles east of Donaghadee Harbour with three men onboard. The inboard auxiliary engine had failed so the crew established a towline and a course was set for Donaghadee were the yacht was secured at the visitors' berth by 4pm. 

Five hours later at 8.03pm, the crew were paged again and requested to launch to assist a small speedboat with two people onboard on the rocks at Millisle. Launching the lifeboat at 8.10pm, Saxon proceeded at full speed to the scene as crew members readied the Trent class’s daughter boat to prepare to the need to get close to the shallow area where the casualty boat was stranded. As the lifeboat reached the area the Coastguard rescue team advised that a canoe in the vicinity had managed to tow the boat ashore and both the vessel and its crew were safe and well. 

Speaking following what was a busy weekend for Donaghadee RNLI, Peter Irwin, Lifeboat Operations Manager said: ‘In the first call out of the weekend, our Coxswain and crew managed to refloat the fishing vessel just before high tide in difficult circumstances due to the restricted location of the grounding, size of the vessel and the direction the vessel was pointing. We were delighted to get her refloated relatively quickly and the intense training which the volunteer crew undertake regularly was of no doubt put into full practice. The further two calls on Sunday were more straightforward thankfully.

‘We would remind everyone going to sea and particularly as we approach the summer holidays and enjoy this good weather, to respect the water. Always wear a lifejacket, always carry a means of communication and tell someone ashore where you are going and when you are due back. Should you get into trouble dial 999 or 112 and ask for the Coastguard.’

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.

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