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Union Hall RNLI Name Atlantic 85 Lifeboat Christine and Raymond Fielding Following West Cork Legacy

26th June 2022
The Atlantic 85 class lifeboat was christened the Christine and Raymond Fielding at the Union Hall Pier by crew Chris Collins (Helmsman), Darren Collins, Riona Casey and Hugh McNulty
The Atlantic 85 class lifeboat was christened the Christine and Raymond Fielding at the Union Hall Pier by crew Chris Collins (Helmsman), Darren Collins, Riona Casey and Hugh McNulty Credit: Bob Bateman

Volunteers at Union Hall RNLI in West Cork held a special ceremony and service of dedication on Saturday (25 June) for their Atlantic 85 lifeboat, Christine and Raymond Fielding.

A crowd gathered on Keelbeg Pier for a special ceremony and service of dedication to name Union Hall RNLI’s Atlantic 85 lifeboat, ‘Christine and Raymond Fielding.’

The funding for the lifeboat came from the late Dr. Raymond Fielding, a keen mariner and proud Corkman. While Raymond and his wife Christine did not live to see the lifeboat put into service, Raymond asked that it bear both their names.

RNLI Trustee John Killeen (left) and Vice President Peter Crowley Photo: Bob BatemanRNLI Trustee John Killeen (left) and Vice President Peter Crowley Photo: Bob Bateman

The lifeboat has been on service since June 2021, but the ceremony was postponed to allow the community to celebrate together. The lifeboat was officially handed into the care of the Institution by Eddie Fitzgerald, a close friend of Mr. and Mrs. Fielding. The couple were described by Mr. Fitzgerald as a great team who had been married for 48 years before Christine predeceased Raymond. The Fieldings loved sailing, spending a great deal of time off West Cork, in particular.

RNLI Trustee, John Killeen accepted the lifeboat from Mr. Fitzgerald, on behalf of the charity, before giving it into the care of Union Hall Lifeboat Station, who were represented by Deputy Launching Authority, Peter Deasy. Speaking during the handover, John Killeen said, ‘All of us in the RNLI are one crew and we need the tools of the trade to carry out our lifesaving work. One part of that is the lifeboat, while the other is our volunteers. The lifeboat crew give a lot of their time and take a risk in going out to save people. It’s a fantastic day for the community here in Union Hall.’

In accepting the lifeboat on behalf of the station Deputy Launching Authority Peter Deasy added, ‘While we’re sad to say farewell to our former lifeboat ‘Margaret Bench of Solihull,’ which has served the station faithfully for five years, we look forward to writing a new chapter in the station’s history with the arrival of this new Atlantic class lifeboat.’

‘This Atlantic class lifeboat means that we now have the latest and finest rescue equipment available. I know that when the crews head out to sea, we will have peace of mind that this lifeboat will help to keep them safe. We also remember today the people who worked so hard in setting up this Station and who sadly are no longer with us, particularly Paddy O’Donovan, our former Chairperson of the lifeboat station, who was passionate about establishing a lifeboat here.’

Royal Cork sailors (from left), Amy Mockler, Dick Gibson and Hugh Mockler Photo: Bob BatemanRoyal Cork sailors (from left), Amy Mockler, Dick Gibson and Hugh Mockler Photo: Bob Bateman

A service of dedication was led by Reverend Chris Peters and Father Gerard Thornton. Following this, the lifeboat was officially named by Bill Deasy, Union Hall RNLI boathouse Manager, with the occasion being marked by Helm Chris Collins pouring champagne over the bow of the lifeboat.

A vote of thanks was delivered by Brian Crowley, Chairperson of Union Hall RNLI. Music for the ceremony was provided by St Fachtna’s Silver Band and The Union Hall and Castlehaven Parish Choir. MC for the event was Fundraising Chairperson Carmel McKenna.

The Atlantic 85 class lifeboat is one of the fastest vessels in the fleet; with a top speed is 35 knots. Designed to operate in shallower water, the B class can handle challenging open sea conditions. It is ideal for rescues close to shore, near cliffs and rocks and areas inaccessible to all-weather lifeboats. It is also capable of being beached in an emergency without sustaining damage to the engines. In addition to night vision equipment, the B class lifeboat carries a searchlight and parachute illuminating flares to light up the surrounding area, helping to keep crew members safe as well as locate those in need of help. The B class has a manually operated righting mechanism in the event of a capsize which involves inflating a bag on top of the roll bar. The engines are inversion-proofed so that they shut down should the lifeboat capsize and can be restarted after she has been righted.

The Atlantic 85 class lifeboat Christine and Raymond Fielding replaces the Atlantic 75 lifeboat, Margaret Bench of Solihull, which had been on service since 2017. Before this, the lifeboat Maritime Nation was in service from 2014. Both lifeboats came from the RNLI’s relief fleet, making the Christine and Raymond Fielding the first lifeboat to be built especially for service at Union Hall RNLI. Since the station opened in 2014 Union Hall RNLI have launched 68 times and brought 98 people to safety.

Union Hall RNLI Lifeboat Photo Gallery By Bob Bateman

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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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