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#RNLI - Larne RNLI launched last Friday 9 and Sunday 1 September to help recover a total of three yachts that had broken from moorings in severe weather.

The inshore lifeboat launched at 4.05pm on Friday to reports of a 29ft yacht broken free of its mooring in the shipping channel.

Due to the severe weather, with Force 8 winds, the Larne all-weather lifeboat under coxswain Frank Healy launched at 4.25pm and made its way to the scene near Curran Quay.

Two crew members boarded the yacht to set up a tow. The conditions were particularly challenging with a broken mast, loose rigging and a very heavy sea, but the yacht was secured safely to a mooring in Larne Lough.

On Sunday, the volunteer RNLI crew completed weekly training by midday but were paged only a matter of hours later to launch after reports of two yachts encroaching on the shipping channel.

As winds were gusting up to Force 10, it was decided to launch the all-weather lifeboat to attend the yachts, one of which had broken from its mooring while the other was dragging its mooring into the shipping channel.

Lifeboat crew were placed aboard the first yacht and a tow established, it was then secured to another mooring. Once the first yacht was secure, the RNLI crew and the yacht’s owner were placed abroad the yacht dragging its mooring.

Due to the wind and sea conditions in the lough, the decision was made to head for safe harbour in Glenarm rather than attempt a mooring pickup.

Once the casualty vessel was safely on its way to Glenarm under its own steam, Larne lifeboat returned to the station.

Speaking following the callouts, Larne RNLI deputy launching authority Philip Ford-Hutchinson said: "The strong southerly winds and heavy sea state within the lough made these three incidents extremely challenging for our volunteer crews to deal with.

"All their training was called upon in removing the vessels from further danger."

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Larne RNLI rescued three people late last night (Friday 29 July) after their 6m yacht got into difficulty off the Antrim coast.

The three women were on passage from Norway to the Caribbean having come through the Caledonian canal, and were heading to Belfast when they encountered problems.

The crew raised the alarm at approximately 11.30pm when their yacht was becalmed having sustained engine failure seven miles north east of Larne.

The all-weather lifeboat under Coxswain Norman Surplus launched at 11.45pm and made its way to the scene near the Highland perch, an area far from the coastline known to be hazardous for its shallow water.

Weather conditions at the time were described as excellent with light to no wind blowing and good visibility despite it being dark.

On arrival, a volunteer lifeboat crew member transferred onto the yacht where he first checked that the three on board were safe and well.

The lifeboat crew then proceeded to work with the vessel’s crew to establish a towline before the lifeboat brought the yacht into the safety of Larne harbour. On arrival the all-weather lifeboat was met by the station’s inshore lifeboat which assisted at the end of the call out to put the boat on the mooring.

Speaking following the call out, Larne RNLI Coxswain Norman Surplus said: ‘The three women did the right thing tonight and raised the alarm when they got into difficulty and thankfully all three are safe and well and we would like to wish them a safe onward journey.

‘We would encourage anyone visiting the coast this summer, to remember to respect the water. When sailing, always have a means for calling and signalling for help and ensure everyone onboard knows how to use it. Always check the weather forecast and tide times. Make sure someone ashore knows where you are going and who to call if you don’t return on time. Learn how to start, run and maintain your engine and always carry tools and spares.’

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Larne RNLI came to the aid of four people yesterday evening after their 16m yacht got into difficulty off the County Antrim coast.

At approximately 6.30pm yesterday (Thursday 7 July), the volunteer crew was requested by Belfast Coastguard to launch both their all-weather and inshore lifeboats after it was reported that a large yacht had sustained engine failure a mile north east of Muck Island.

Weather conditions at the time were described as good with a Force 3 wind and a slight swell running.

Arriving on scene, the lifeboat crew observed that one of the four people onboard was suffering from sea sickness.

Crew members from the inshore lifeboat went aboard to provide casualty care to the seasick individual while the all-weather lifeboat crew started to prepare the yacht for towing.

Once a towline was established, the all-weather lifeboat began the passage to Carrick Marina. Due to the large size of the vessel, Larne RNLI’s inshore lifeboat was used to assist with manoeuvring the yacht in the confines of the marina.

Speaking following the call out, Philip Ford-Hutchinson, Larne RNLI Deputy Launching Authority said: ‘This call out was a great example of both our inshore and all-weather lifeboats working well together to assist the four people onboard the casualty vessel. The inshore lifeboat crew members were able to administer casualty care to the person who was seasick before assisting the all-weather crew with setting up a tow and then helping to manoeuvre the yacht in the tight confines of Carrick Marina. Our volunteer crew regularly train for scenarios like this and those skills and training were put to good use last night.’

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#RNLI - Over the last few months the generous people of Larne have raised over £2,000 for their local lifeboat station.

More than £600 was raised by the Great Northern Retro car rally that left Larne at 9am on Saturday 30 April, travelling up the scenic Antrim Coast to Malin Head. The event was very well supported with vehicles of all makes and models.

Meanwhile, local man John Stirling – father of lifeboat crew member Lee Stirling – celebrated his 60th birthday recently with a donation of £300 to the Larne lifeboat.

The Stirling family organised a surprise party and kindly asked for donations to Larne RNLI and the NI Air Ambulance in lieu of gifts.

Additionally, Larne Grammar School year 8 pupils, who are committed supporters of Larne RNLI, have again this year presented their local lifeboat station with a cheque for £1147.89 raised throughout the academic year.

"The people of Larne are very generous and dedicated supporters of our local lifeboat crew," said Jim Kerr, Larne RNLI fundraising chair, :I attended the start of the car rally and it was a fantastic spectacle to see the camper vans and cars leave Larne.

"I’d like to thank Gavin Gray who organised the NI Retros car rally, John Stirling for his birthday donation and the year 8 pupils of Larne grammar school for their kind donations.

"RNLI volunteer lifeboat crews around Ireland are willing to drop everything to go and save lives at sea when their pagers beep. We rely on the generosity of the public to continue our lifesaving service, which we operate day and night, 365 days a year.

"These donations can help fund crew training, contribute towards the running costs of a lifeboat station or buy new crew kit and are greatly appreciated by all at Larne RNLI."

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Five RNLI lifeboats were launched last night from Larne and Red Bay in Northern Ireland and Portpatrick in Scotland to take part in an extensive search for a missing microlight aircraft. The craft is understood to have two people onboard when it was reported missing off the Northern Ireland coastline.

The launch was requested by the coastguard when the aircraft was reported overdue at 8.30pm and a major search operation was put in place.

Joining the five RNLI lifeboats in the major search were the Irish Coast Guard Helicopter Rescue 116 along with a rescue helicopter from Prestwick and local coastguard teams.

Search conditions were described as extremely challenging as visibility was poor due to thick fog. Larne RNLI launched their all-weather lifeboat and D class lifeboat, Red Bay RNLI launched their Atlantic 85 and all-weather lifeboat along with the all-weather lifeboat from Portpatrick. The lifeboats between them searched a huge area off the Northern Ireland coastline before standing down the search after 4am. It is expected that the search will resume again this morning; however weather conditions remain poor with heavy fog still present.

UK Coasguard adds

At about 8.30pm yesterday (Thursday 9 June) Distress and Diversion (based at Swanwick) notified the UK Coastguard that a small microlight aircraft with two persons on board had been reported overdue.

The microlight was transiting the Northern Ireland coastline when it went missing and an extensive search is being carried out in the area.

Last night and in the early hours of this morning, the UK Coastguard search and rescue helicopter based at Prestwick, the Irish Coastguard helicopter based at Dublin, Ballycastle, Coleraine, Stranraer, Portpatrick, Larne and Campbelltown Coastguard Rescue Teams, Larne RNLI inshore and all weather lifeboats, Red Bay inshore and all weather lifeboats and Portpatrick RNLI all weather lifeboats, were all involved in the search.

The search was suspended due to poor visibility as a result of fog at 3.00am today (Friday 10 June). The teams and rescue units are waiting for the visibility to improve before they resume the search.

The Northern Ireland North West Mountain Rescue Team will also be joining the search today.

Ryan Gray, Senior Maritime Operations Officer at the UK Coastguard said: ‘UK Coastguard has also issued a Mayday relay broadcast in the area and several merchant shipping vessels have responded and are keeping a lookout for this aircraft. We may send further resources as the search widens.’

The Northern Ireland Police and Police Scotland have also been informed.

A further update will be provided when the search resumes.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Volunteer lifeboat crew at Larne RNLI responded to a launch request from the UK Coastguard yesterday evening to help search for three overdue divers near Blackhead Lighthouse.

The initial alarm was raised at 5.30pm to report three divers who were 40 minutes overdue. Larne All-weather lifeboat launched followed by Larne inshore lifeboat and the crews were quickly on scene in the Blackhead Area to commence the search. The major multiagency search was coordinated by the coastguard and included Bangor RNLI, the Irish Coast Guard helicopter Rescue 116, four shipping vessels, two boats from Whitehead Yacht club and Larne, Portmuck and Bangor coastguard teams.

The weather conditions of calm seas with thick banks of rolling fog caused poor visibility and challenging search conditions.

Larne RNLI inshore lifeboat located the three divers at 6.50pm on a cliff face north of The Gobbins. The divers were recovered into the lifeboat and did not require medical assistance however they were fatigued, hungry and thirsty. Larne All-weather lifeboat then took the divers onboard and transferred them safely back to Belfast Coastal Operations Centre in Bangor.

Larne RNLI Operations Manager Allan Dorman said 'Conditions were very challenging with visibility down to about fifteen metres. The divers did the right thing and stayed together. We were fearful as time passed and our lifeboat crews were still searching the area with no sightings but thankfully the tide took them north and to nearby rocks. They were exhausted when they were finally located and recovered onto the inshore lifeboat. We are extremely thankful that the callout ended well with everyone accounted for and safely recovered. Our thanks to everyone involved in the search.’

UK Coastguard adds:

Three divers found safe after extensive UK Coastguard search and rescue operation

UK Coastguard coordinated the search and rescue operation for three divers this afternoon who were located by the Larne RNLI inshore lifeboat after nearly two hours in the water.

At 5.30pm today (8 June) UK Coastguard received a call from the coxswain of a RHIB (rigid hulled inflatable boat) dive boat reporting that three divers were 20 minutes overdue from their dive in the area of Blackhead, Belfast Lough.

A Mayday emergency broadcast was issued to alert all shipping vessels in the area and the Ballycastle, Bangor, Larne and Portmuck Coastguard Rescue Teams, the Irish Coastguard helicopter, Bangor RNLI inshore lifeboat and Larne RNLI all weather and inshore lifeboats carried out an extensive search. Four commercial vessels, two fishing boats, a yacht and four RHIBs from the Whitehead Yacht Club responded to the Mayday broadcast and joined the search efforts.

The crew of the Larne RNLI inshore lifeboat spotted the three divers nearly three miles from their original dive location. They were safely put onto the boat and taken to the Bangor Marina where they were met and given safety advice by the Bangor Coastguard Rescue Team. They required no medical treatment.

Ryan Gray, Senior Maritime Operations Officer for the UK Coastguard said: ‘The coxswain of the RHIB dive boat did exactly the right thing calling the UK Coastguard when it became apparent that the divers were overdue. Although we had very heavy fog in the area which reduced visibility, these divers were extremely experienced and had an emergency plan in place when they found themselves in difficulty. It was a very challenging search operation given the weather conditions, however, the divers’ professionalism and the fact that they stayed calm and stuck together, meant that we were able to locate them quickly. They had all the right equipment to cope with this situation and we are extremely glad that they were found safe and well.

‘We would like to extend a massive thank you to all those who reacted quickly to the Mayday broadcast that was issued. It was truly a coordinated effort and everyone did a fantastic job to bring these divers home safely.’

Mr Allan Dorman Larne, RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager said: ‘Conditions were very challenging with visibility down to about fifteen metres. The divers did the right thing and stayed together. We were fearful as time passed and our lifeboat crews were still searching the area with no sightings but thankfully the tide took them north and to nearby rocks. They were exhausted when they were finally located and recovered onto the inshore lifeboat. We are extremely thankful that the callout ended well with everyone accounted for and safely recovered. Our thanks to everyone involved in the search.’

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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#RNLI - The RNLI volunteer lifeboat crew from Larne carried out a training exercise with the Dublin-based Irish Coast Guard helicopter Rescue 116 off Ballygally Head yesterday (Sunday 10 April).

The Sikorsky S-92 initially visited Larne on 20 March last when they landed on Curran Point. The visit consisted of a briefing to Larne RNLI crew and included an orientation of the helicopter. The Larne Coastguard team was also present on the day, securing a safe landing zone for the helicopter.

Larne RNLI launched both their relief all-weather lifeboat Windsor Runner and inshore lifeboat Terry yesterday for the exercise to simulate recovery of a casualty to a helicopter in an emergency situation.

The lifeboats practiced manoeuvres at speed with Rescue 116. A crew member was winched into the helicopter and a casualty stretcher was transferred from the helicopter to the lifeboat. The helicopter winchman also landed onto the inshore lifeboat.

The RNLI regularly carries out exercises with other rescue agencies. It is this training that ensures the crew are able to work effectively with other agencies in an emergency situation, including medical evacuation of a casualty to a helicopter.

Larne RNLI coxswain Frank Healy said: "This was a very valuable exercise with the Irish Coast Guard. It's fantastic to step up the volume and breadth of our training coming into what is traditionally a busy summer period for call outs. Our thanks to the Irish Coast Guard for making this exercise possible."

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

#RNLI - Lifeboats from Bangor, Donaghadee and Larne were launched last night (Tuesday 27 October) as part of a major operation after a flight out of Belfast declared an emergency.

Police, fire and ambulance crews were also involved in the cross-agency response to the British Airways flight from Belfast City Airport to Heathrow, with 108 passengers aboard, which diverted to Belfast International Airport shortly after take-off as the pilot declared an emergency.

The RNLI lifeboats were on the water within 10 minutes of receiving a request from HM Coastguard and proceeded to positions which are part of a practiced air emergency plan.

Thankfully the services of the volunteer crews were not required and the lifeboats returned to station within the hour.

Alan Whiteside, operations director at Belfast International Airport, said: "Everything went smoothly, our own police and fire service on site here responded, the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service, the PSNI, the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service all attended as a routine.

"But nobody was required to take any other action - the aircraft landed safely, thankfully."

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Larne RNLI rescued two men in challenging conditions last night after their 14ft punt got lost in fog.

The volunteer crew was requested to launch their inshore lifeboat by Belfast Coastguard shortly after 8pm following a 999 call.

The men had got into difficulty when they became disorientated in the fog at Swan Island in Larne Lough.

Larne RNLI’s lifeboat helmed by Pamela Dorman immediately made its way to the scene in what were challenging conditions for the crew whose visibility was restricted to three metres.

Once the casualties were located and deemed not to be in any immediate danger, a tow was set up and the lifeboat proceeded to return the vessel and its crew to the safety of Larne Boat Club slipway.

Speaking following the call out, Larne RNLI helm Pamela Dorman said: ‘This was a particularly challenging call out this evening given the fog and the fact that our visibility was reduced to two to three metres. However, we are trained to deal with these situations and with the assistance of Belfast Coastguard and the casualties we were guided to the location and able to return the men safely to shore tonight. The casualties had made the correct decision to raise the alarm and request assistance when they got into difficulty. We would always urge anyone in distress to call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.’

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20th September 2015

Larne RNLI Launches New Lifeboat

Volunteers, supporters and friends of Larne RNLI gathered this weekend at the East Antrim Boat Club to attend the official Naming Ceremony and Service of Dedication for the lifeboat station’s new D-class lifeboat Terry. The new inshore lifeboat was provided through the Pistol Benefit Fund, which was set up in memory of Frederick (Fred) and Theresa (Terry) Pistol and named Terry in memory of Fred’s beloved wife Theresa.

The Pistol Benefit Fund has its origins in Frederick Pistol’s incredible life. Fred came to the UK from Austria, as a 19-year old refugee fleeing the Holocaust. He arrived with nothing more than the clothes on his back and worked as a fitter until the Second World War started. He joined the army, eventually becoming a Major and returned to England in 1946 after serving abroad. He married Theresa (Terry) a concert pianist born in Westcliff-on-Sea and discovered a passion for sailing, one that has been passed down through the family. Every boat Fred bought was named Terry after his wife and Larne RNLI’s new D-class lifeboat now proudly bears the name.

Attending the ceremony were members of the Pistol family, who have supported the work of the RNLI for many years. Fred and Theresa’s son Neil and his wife Viveca were special guests along with their two sons, Ben and Josh and their friend Simon Perlmutter. Their daughter Gabriella was unable to attend as she is currently travelling but she was being kept up to date with the proceedings by her brothers. Close friends of the couple, Alan and Shirley Shalet, also made the journey on what would have been Fred’s birthday.

Allan Dorman, Larne RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager, who accepted the lifeboat into the care of the station said; ‘Every naming ceremony for a new lifeboat is a special occasion and this is no exception, as we honour the Pistol family and their generous life-saving gift to the Institution and the people of Larne. We will remember Frederick and Theresa through the work of this lifeboat and the volunteer crew and we will be the proud custodians of it for many years to come.’

Speaking during the ceremony Neil Pistol said, ‘Thank you for honouring my family and allowing me this privilege. Thank you to the RNLI for being there. Thank you for going out into conditions when others are safe in harbour. Thank you for risking your lives to save others. You, all the members of the RNLI, make a difference. You do not discriminate; you solely take action to save others.

Neil also expressed his pleasure on learning, during an earlier tour of the lifeboat station, that the name of the RNLI rescue mannequin, lifeboat crew use during training, is named Fred. He concluded his speech by acknowledging this, to the delight of the crowd;

‘It will bring us all great pleasure to know that in real life as in previous real-life, Terry will continue to rescue Fred, during the station’s regular training sessions. In the end we make our own destiny. Good luck and Godspeed to all the Larne crew. It gives me great pleasure to hand this lifeboat into the care of the RNLI.’

The D-class lifeboat remains the workhorse of the RNLI as it has for nearly 50 years. Built at a cost of £48,000, the inflatable craft is highly manoeuvrable and specifically suited to surf, shallow water and confined locations – often working close to cliffs, among rocks or even in caves. Importantly it can also be righted manually by the crew in the event of capsize.

It is the smallest class in the RNLI lifeboat fleet but its impact on search and rescue has been huge. The D class carries out some of the most difficult and dangerous rescues lifeboat crews have faced.

The platform party at the service were Mr. Tommy Hutcheson, retired Deputy Launching Authority for Larne RNLI who welcomed guests and opened proceedings; Mr Neil Pistol, who presented the RNLI with the new lifeboat, Christopher Brooke, RNLI Irish Council member who accepted the lifeboat on behalf of the RNLI and handed her into the care of the station; Mr. Allan Dorman, Larne RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager, who accepted the lifeboat on behalf of the station; Darren Byers RNLI Divisional Operations Manager for Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man who spoke on the capabilities of the new lifeboat and Ms Karen Black, one of the founding crew members of Larne RNLI who recently retired and who officially named the lifeboat.

The Very Reverend Aidan Kerr, the Venerable Stephen Forde, Reverend Tommy Stevenson and Reverend Doctor Colin McClure lead the Service of Dedication with specially chosen hymns and readings. Music was provided by
Magheramourne Silver Band.

Last year Larne RNLI celebrated 20 years of lifesaving during which time the volunteer lifeboat crew launched 411 times, saving 31 lives and rescuing 326 people. Larne RNLI operates both a D-class inshore lifeboat and a Trent class all-weather lifeboat.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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