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Three RNLI Lifeboat Crews Receive Award for Rescue of Fishing Vessel Crew off Fanad Head

28th November 2022
Portrush CE Commendation: Portrush RNLI Coxswain Des Austin holds the RNLI’s Chief Executive Commendation with the lifeboat crew from the station
Portrush CE Commendation: Portrush RNLI Coxswain Des Austin holds the RNLI’s Chief Executive Commendation with the lifeboat crew from the station

Lifeboat crews from Lough Swilly and Arranmore in County Donegal, along with Portrush in county Antrim, have received an award from the RNLI for a callout in 2019 as Afloat reported at the time, which saw the rescuers at sea for hours in Force 11 conditions. The actions of the lifeboat crews that night, saved the lives of five people onboard a fishing vessel that was in serious trouble. For their outstanding actions at sea, which were conducted in storm force conditions, the three lifeboat crews have received a Chief Executive’s Commendation from the RNLI.

The lifeboat crews had been requested to launch their all-weather lifeboats by Belfast Coastguard on the afternoon of Saturday, 14 December 2019, following a Mayday alert from a 45ft fishing boat. The five men who had been fishing for crab, got into difficulty 20 miles north of Fanad Head, when their boat lost power and encountered steering difficulties, while powerful waves struck their vessel.

In the middle of a storm, the lifeboat crew worked with the fishermen to establish a tow in conditions which saw the sea swell reach 50 ft. and the tow part three times. Arranmore lifeboat crew undertook the tow and once in calmer waters transferred it to Lough Swilly lifeboat. The lifeboat crew were at sea for fifteen hours, carrying out the rescue in darkness. Despite their ordeal none of the fishing crew were injured.

On a recent visit to their stations, RNLI Chief Executive, Mr. Mark Dowie, presented Arranmore Coxswain Jimmy Early and Lough Swilly Lifeboat Operations Manager John McCarter with the Commendations, while Portrush RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager Beni McAllister presented the Portrush lifeboat crew with their honour.

Arranmore CE Commendation: RNLI Chief Executive Mark Dowie presents a Commendation to Arranmore RNLI Coxswain Jimmy Early and Arranmore lifeboat crew on a recent visit to the stationArranmore CE Commendation: RNLI Chief Executive Mark Dowie presents a Commendation to Arranmore RNLI Coxswain Jimmy Early and Arranmore lifeboat crew on a recent visit to the station

Speaking about the lifesaving service, Mark Dowie RNLI Chief Executive said, ‘The joint actions of all three lifeboats undoubtedly saved the crew and casualty vessel, with exemplary decision making displayed by the Coxswains. I would like to express my sincere thanks on behalf of the RNLI for the dedicated service of all involved.’

Arranmore RNLI Coxswain, Jimmy Early said, ‘It is indeed a great honour to be recognised by the RNLI for the work that we do. All of our volunteer crew are delighted with this award and the rescue was a really well coordinated service with the Coast Guard and our flanking stations in Lough Swilly and Portrush.’

Lough Swilly CE Commendation: Lough Swilly RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager John McCarter accepts a Commendation on behalf of the lifeboat station from RNLI Chief Executive Mark Dowie, during his recent visit to the stationLough Swilly CE Commendation: Lough Swilly RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager John McCarter accepts a Commendation on behalf of the lifeboat station from RNLI Chief Executive Mark Dowie, during his recent visit to the station

Lough Swilly RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager John McCarter, who accepted the award on behalf of the lifeboat crew said, ‘I am always proud of our crew but their actions that night were nothing short of incredible. To be at sea for such a long period is one thing but to do it in incredibly challenging seas and alongside our colleagues, was a lifesaving mission like no other. I am grateful to the RNLI for recognising the commitment and dedication shown by the three lifeboat crews involved.’

Portrush RNLI Coxswain Des Austin Cox added, ‘It was a challenging service for all the lifeboat crews and to be at sea with both Lough Swilly and Arranmore, showed the incredible working relationship between our stations. We train for every type of callout but when you are in those conditions, it is great to be alongside your neighbouring lifeboat colleagues. My thanks to the crews who answered the call that night and I am incredibly grateful everyone came home.’

The framed Commendations will be put on display in the three lifeboat stations.

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.

© Afloat 2020

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