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Rosslare Harbour RNLI to Receive Vellum Honour for ‘Storm Ophelia’ Rescue That Saved Three Lives

15th October 2021
Rosslare Harbour RNLI carried out a rescue on 16 October 2017 during ‘Storm Ophelia’ that saw three lives saved in hurricane conditions
Rosslare Harbour RNLI carried out a rescue on 16 October 2017 during ‘Storm Ophelia’ that saw three lives saved in hurricane conditions Credit: RNLI/Nigel Milliard

Lifeboat crew at Rosslare Harbour RNLI, who carried out a rescue on 16 October 2017 during ‘Storm Ophelia’ that saw three lives saved in hurricane conditions, will receive an award from the RNLI for the service. The Coxswain Eamonn O’Rourke will receive the Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum and the lifeboat crew involved will each receive Vellum Service Certificates.

The rescue took place in conditions described by the lifeboat crew involved as some of the worst they had ever witnessed as they battled 10-metre seas in force 12 conditions. In announcing this award, the RNLI recognised the Coxswain for his boat handling and exemplary leadership in hurricane-force weather conditions and the lifeboat crew involved for their teamwork, courage and collective efforts in the rescue of the crew and the yacht.

The award was decided at a recent RNLI Trustees meeting and is the second recognition for Rosslare Harbour RNLI, following the Gallantry Award for the rescue of the Lily B off Hook Head, which saw nine lives saved and averted an environmental disaster when the 4,000-tonne cargo vessel was prevented from getting dashed on the rocks.

The full lifeboat crew for the callout were, Coxswain Eamonn O’Rourke, Mechanic Michael Nicholas and lifeboat crew, Art Sheil, Micheal Ferguson, Keith Morris, Padraig Quirke, Stephen Breen and Richard Parish.

As Afloat reported at the time, at 10 am on 16 October 2017 a ‘Mayday’ was received by the Irish Coast Guard from the skipper of Second Love, a 10-metre Dehler yacht, in serious trouble en route from the UK to Malahide. With conditions deteriorating rapidly the crew were struggling to keep control of the yacht. They had planned to berth in Rosslare but decided to head to Arklow in a bid to outrun the weather. Rosslare Harbour RNLI lifeboat was launched, and the rescue lasted four hours in severe weather and sea conditions.

In what proved a vital course of action on the day, a decision was made to pass a drogue (a device trailed behind a vessel to slow it down in rough conditions) to the casualty yacht and then establish a tow to bring the vessel to safety. These actions took place in 10-metre seas and required great skill and patience from all involved.

Commenting on the Vellum recognition, Rosslare Harbour RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager David Maloney said ‘While no lifeboat crew does any rescue for reward this is a great honour for our station. The conditions that day were terrible but when a Mayday is being broadcast, the lifeboat crew go.’

‘The rescue was a challenging one where skill, good seamanship and patience were needed. We are fortunate to have incredibly dedicated and skilled lifeboat crew in Rosslare where each volunteer would have been ready and willing to go to sea. When the pagers went off for this shout, we had eighteen of our lifeboat crew respond. Without their excellent work, the outcome of this service would have been very different.’

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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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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