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#RNLI - Kilkeel RNLI's volunteer lifeboat crew launched at 9.20am yesterday morning (Monday 14 March) to go the aid of a fishing vessel rapidly taking in water about 25 miles southeast of Kilkeel, Co Down.

The vessel was in a heavy swell when water was seen in the fish room. The boat’s pump was unable to cope with the water entering and at one stage the fish room was three-quarters full of water. It had begun to affect the stability of the boat when the alarm was raised and help was dispatched.

When Kilkeel RNLI arrived on scene, the lifeboat was carefully manoeuvred by its volunteer crew alongside the vessel in an increasingly heavy swell, and two of the lifeboat crew went aboard the fishing vessel with a salvage pump. Newcastle RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat was also on scene to render assistance.

The Kilkeel lifeboat then transferred a further pump from the Newcastle lifeboat, and with all the pumps working the boat was kept afloat. The two lifeboats then escorted the fishing boat under her own steam safely into Kilkeel Harbour, arriving at about 12.45pm.

John Fisher, Kilkeel RNLI lifeboat operations manager, said: "If the incident had happened further out to sea then the operation would have been more difficult, but with the Kilkeel and Newcastle lifeboats co-operating well together, the fishing boat and its crew were brought safely ashore.

Kilkeel RNLI's volunteer lifeboat crew on this callout were Raymond Newell, Alan Henning, Andrew McConnell and Wayne Marshall.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

#RNLI - Newcastle RNLI had their third call of the week last night (Thursday 18 February) with volunteers involved in a three-hour search operation after flares were sighted off the Co Down coast.

Newly appointed coxswain Alan Jones had the opportunity to put his RNLI training and skills to good use launching the lifeboat on service for a second time this week when the volunteer crew was requested at 7.30pm after flares were sighted from St John’s Point, in the Dundrum Bay area off Annalong.

The station’s all-weather lifeboat, which only an hour earlier had returned from passage after routine repairs, launched with six crew members on board. Weather conditions were described as good with a light swell and little wind as the lifeboat made its way in the dark but clear night.

Once on scene some eight miles from the lifeboat station and three miles off Annalong, the crew conducted an intensive search for three hours. Nothing untoward was found and the lifeboat was stood down at 10pm.

Earlier this week, Newcastle RNLI were requested to launch their all-weather lifeboat at 5.52am on Tuesday 16 February to assist injured crew member on a 70ft fishing vessel 18 miles south-west of the Isle of Man and 25 miles south-east of Newcastle.

On the first callout for coxswain Alan Jones, the lifeboat launched at 6.05am. Weather conditions at the time were described as gusty with southerly Force 6 winds blowing and rough seas.

The casualty was airlifted by the Irish Coast Guard helicopter Rescue 116 from Dublin, as previously reported on

The crew were also in action on Saturday evening (13 February) when they rescued four people after a 36ft angling boat suffered engine failure eight miles south east of St John’s Point.

Speaking following what has been a busy period for the station, Jones said: "Our volunteer lifeboat and shore crew responded with great enthusiasm to all three call outs this week, one of which was in the early hours of the morning.

"They all volunteer to save lives at sea and are prepared to drop what they are doing to help anyone who may be in difficulty in the water.

"We would always encourage anyone who finds themselves in trouble or thinks someone maybe in difficulty to raise the alarm. We would always rather launch and find nothing untoward than not launch at all."

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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#RNLI - Newcastle RNLI rescued four people on Saturday night (13 February) after their angling boat got into difficulty off the Co Down coast.

The volunteer crew were requested to launch their all-weather lifeboat at 7.30pm on Saturday following a request from Belfast Coastguard to go to the aid of a 36ft angling boat, which had suffered engine failure eight miles south east of St John’s Point while on passage from Howth to Carrickfergus.

Under coxswain Aidan Riley and with five crew members on board, the lifeboat launched within minutes and made its way to the scene some 16 nautical miles from the station.

Weather conditions at the time were described as fresh with rough seas and Force 5-6 winds blowing.

With the vessel losing battery power, Newcastle RNLI advised the crew to switch the boat’s lights off until the lifeboat was closer to their location.

Once on scene 80 minutes later, the lifeboat crew assessed the situation and once confident that no one was in any immediate danger, the lifeboat crew began to work with the angling crew to set up a towline.

The vessel was then taken under tow and brought safely back to Ardglass.

Speaking following the callout, Newcastle RNLI coxswain Aidan Riley said: "The vessel was quite a bit away from the shore when it sustained engine difficulties and the crew made the right call to ask for assistance.

"We were delighted to help and glad to see the boat and her crew returned safely to Ardglass."

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

#rnli – Two long-serving Newcastle RNLI volunteers have received awards from the charity for their tireless work and dedication to saving lives at sea. Deputy Launching Authority Joe McClelland and All Weather lifeboat crewmember William Wilson were presented with the awards at the station recently and the honour was well received among their colleagues at the lifeboat station. Between them the two men have given almost seventy years' service to the RNLI and neither of them have any plans to retire.

Joe McClelland has been involved with Newcastle RNLI since signing up as a teenager in 1966. He spent the next two years as shore crew before he moved onto the all weather lifeboat, where he spent the next 27 years as lifeboat man. When it came time to step down from the lifeboat crew, Joe did not leave the RNLI. Instead he stayed on at the station and put his invaluable maritime knowledge and experience to good use in the role of Deputy Launching Authority.

Joe is a mariner through and through, having been at sea for 42 years, with 30 of them serving as a Captain in the merchant navy. Reminiscing on his time with Newcastle RNLI Joe said, 'It was the done thing years ago to join the lifeboat crew when you were very young. The Newcastle lifeboat at time was the Liverpool class William and Laura and the Coxswain was Mickey Leneghan, a man we all looked up to and who was a legend around these parts. I lived in the harbour and the sea was in my blood.

Receiving the long service award is a huge honour for me and I will treasure it. So much has changed in the RNLI over the last 47 years that I've been involved with the RNLI. There is now a huge emphasis on training and rightly so. Not as many people are from maritime backgrounds but they have brought huge talent and skill to the crew and the RNLI places a huge emphasis on the training. I've seen a lot of things during my time as lifeboat crew and thankfully there has been a lot of happy endings and reunions but I also remember those who were lost at sea and their families.'

Also receiving his long service award was crewmember William Wilson, in recognition of his 20 years on the Newcastle lifeboat. William joined the lifeboat crew in 1994 when he was 26 years old. His father Will also volunteers with Newcastle RNLI and is currently station President. William has served as both inshore and all weather lifeboat crew but these days he has retired from the smaller lifeboat.

William commented, 'I always had an interest in search and rescue and I had the good fortune of joining the lifeboat crew just as the current all weather lifeboat Eleanor and Bryant Girling arrived on station, so there was huge excitement. We couldn't wait to get onboard and up to speed with all the equipment. My first major callout was to a fishing boat which had been lost in bad weather. I remember my adrenalin was pumping as we searched for the missing crewman for days. At that stage you realise that even when things are bleak, the importance of bringing closure to a family is a huge part of your job.

The RNLI is a very professional service and I love the fact that you are never finished learning. The background of the crew may have changed but the aims and values are still exactly the same and that is still saving lives at sea. I want to thank everyone involved with Newcastle RNLI for the honour and I hope we will see many more of these awards in the years to come.'

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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#lifeboat – Volunteer lifeboat crew at Newcastle RNLI were called out last Wednesday after a distress call from a fishing vessel in the Irish Sea. The All Weather Lifeboat crew were tasked by Belfast Coastguard to assist Donaghadee RNLI lifeboat crew after the skipper of the 24 meter steel hulled vessel reported his boat had lost all power.

The callout was a particularly special one for the Latus family as both father Robert and son Aaron (18) were on board Newcastle's All Weather Lifeboat 'Eleanor and Bryant Girling. The pair were sitting down to breakfast when the pagers went off at 7:53am on Wednesday morning. They promptly made their way to the station and within minutes were suited up and on their way to help the stricken vessel.

Donaghadee RNLI was first on scene 3 miles east of Portavogie. In slight sea conditions with good visibility they quickly secured a tow line and proceeded to make way towards Ardglass Harbour. They were joined by Newcastle RNLI's lifeboat crew who assisted in helping keep the vessel under control to ensure a safe entrance and berthing at its home port of Ardglass.

Commenting on the callout, Newcastle RNLI crewmember Aaron Latus said 'For years I've watched my dad responding to the lifeboat pager going off. This inspired me to join the crew at Newcastle RNLI. It was great to share my first rescue experience on the All Weather Lifeboat with dad.'

Robert Latus has given 13 years service to the lifeboat and also holds the position of assistant mechanic. Aaron has been a crew member for 15 months.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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#RNLI - In the first callout of the year for Newcastle RNLI in Co Down, both lifeboats were launched in the early hours of Saturday morning (3 January) following reports of a missing male sighted near the beach close to Down Roads.

The inshore lifeboat crew were paged at 3.08am by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) to assist local police and coastguard in their search for the missing man.

The inshore lifeboat arrived on scene within minutes to commence a search of the shoreline from the Shimna river mouth to Dundrum Bar.

In a moderate sea state with some big swells and a northwest Force 4-5 wind, the decision was made at 3.29am to launch the all-weather lifeboat (ALB) to assist with the search.

The ALB lifeboat crew stood by and provided cover as the inshore lifeboat manoeuvred its way through the surf. Both lifeboats used white parachute flares to illuminate the search area in poor weather conditions.

Both lifeboats were stood down at 4.35am and returned to station after the man was safely found on land.

Commenting on the callout, Newcastle RNLI helm Dylan Mooney said: "Thankfully the casualty was found safe and well on shore. It was great to put the new lifeboat through its paces once again.

"It handles well in the surf. We used night vision and the search light to help us see in the darkness."

Newcastle RNLI deputy launching authority Raymond Deery added: "We have a dedicated crew here at Newcastle that respond rapidly to the lifeboat pager no matter what the conditions."

The volunteer lifeboat crew for the inshore lifeboat were Dylan Mooney, Gary Agnew and Aaron Latus and on the all-weather lifeboat were Richard Herron, Alan Jones, Peter Uprichard, Fionnuala Niallais, Declan Barry, Daniel Rooney and Aidan Riley.

Shore crew were Paul Beeks, Brian Leneghan, Nathan Leneghan, Niall McMurray and Robert Latus.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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#rnli – The volunteer lifeboat crew at Newcastle RNLI got to put their new inshore lifeboat through its paces yesterday (Thursday 4 December) when it was requested to launch hours after arriving at station. The callout came at 6.04am in the morning when the coastguard requested the launch of Newcastle's newly arrived D class inshore lifeboat and all weather lifeboat, following reports that a 56 year old man was missing.

The weather was good and the sea state calm, giving both lifeboats the perfect conditions to carry out an intensive search. In the darkness the lifeboat crew used the search light and night vision to scan the coastline and the new lifeboat was able to move in close to the rocky coastline with the crew using their oars to check the depth. Thankfully the man was located safe on land and the search was stood down at 7.30am.

Following delivery of the £41,000 lifeboat, the crew checked it was operational and Search and Rescue capable before they set to sea. The new lifeboat is fitted with SIMS (Systems and Information Management System), an RNLI-developed means for the crew to control a lot of the boat's functions and has a single 50hp outboard engine. Capable of reaching speeds of up to 27 knots the lifeboat can also be righted manually by the crew in the event of a capsize. Equipment onboard includes both fitted and hand-held VHF radio, night-vision equipment, and a first aid kit including oxygen.

The D class lifeboat was first introduced into the fleet in 1963, and its design has continued to evolve. This new lifeboat for Newcastle in county Down was generously funded through a legacy from Mrs Mary Olga Illingworth in Sheffied, with the request that it be named Eliza in memory of her mother.

Commenting on the arrival of the lifeboat, Newcastle RNLI Senior Helm Richard Burgess said, 'The new lifeboat is great to handle and is a marked improvement on our outgoing one, which gave great service to Newcastle for many years. We are very impressed with the enhanced technology and the addition of AIS (Automatic Identification System) which aids the identification and location of marine vessels. It is fast, powerful and easy to manoeuvre; ideal for launching in a hurry. We are very grateful to the late Mrs Illingworth for thinking of others through this generous legacy in providing this lifesaving vessel.'

Newcastle RNLI Deputy Launching Authority Joe Leneghan added, 'We have a great crew here in Newcastle, who put so much time and commitment into their training on the lifeboat. Therefore it is only right that the RNLI provides the best in lifeboat technology and equipment for them. Saving lives at sea is always down to the lifeboat crew but by providing them with a state of the art lifeboat, which is fully kitted out in the latest in Search and Rescue technology they can locate the casualty faster and bring them home to their loved ones sooner. I wish the lifeboat crew many successful callouts in this new lifeboat and may she always carry them home safely.'

The lifeboat crew on the inshore lifeboat were Helm Richard Burgess and crew Declan Barry and Arron Latus. On the all weather lifeboat was Coxswain Richard Herron, Deputy Coxswain William Chambers, Mechanic Aidan Riley and crewmembers Peter Uprichard, William Wilson, Robert Latus and Daniel Rooney.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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#RNLI - A lifeboat training exercise in Carlingford Lough over the weekend turned into a real life callout for the volunteer lifeboat crew of Newcastle RNLI when they were tasked by Belfast Coastguard to go to the assistance of a man in a 26ft fishing vessel with engine failure.

The callout on Sunday morning (16 November) was the first for crew member Richard Burgess since he was appointed a station coxswain.

While on a crew training exercise, the all-weather lifeboat Eleanor and Bryant Girling was alerted by Belfast Coastguard to a man in a fishing vessel at Block House Island, whose boat had suffered engine failure and who was subsequently unable to make it to shore safely.

The lifeboat came on scene at 3.15pm and took the vessel under tow to Carlingford Harbour, arriving at 4pm. There they were met by Greenore Coastguard and the vessel was moored alongside the harbour wall. 

The callout was a special one for crew member Richard Burgess, as it was his first in his new role as a station coxswain at Newcastle RNLI.

"It is nice to get the first callout over as coxswain and to know that it ended well with everyone safe," he said. "I’ve been on the lifeboat crew for a few years now but it has been a huge honour to be appointed one of the station’s coxswains. 

"We have a strong team here in Newcastle RNLI and it is great to know that when you are heading out to sea, there is a highly trained and competent crew with you."

The lifeboat crew on the callout were coxswain Richard Burgess, deputy coxswain Alan Jones, mechanic Jim Polland, navigator Niall McMurray and crew members Gary Agnew and Daniel Rooney.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

#RNLI - Portaferry RNLI in Co Down had a busy weekend with four separate call-outs over the two days.

The first came on Saturday 6 July following a report that three children were drifting offshore on an inflatable toy.

The volunteer lifeboat crew was already afloat on exercise as part of the annual raft race in Kircubbin, Co Down, when they got a call to go to the aid of the three children aged 10, 11 and 14 who were drifting out to sea on the inflatable 18 miles away at Cloughey Bay.

Thankfully by the time they arrived on scene a local coastguard unit had already attended and brought the three children to safety on shore.

Portaferry RNLI was called out for a second time at 4.10pm to rescue a number of people on board a speedboat that had lost power in Strangford Lough just off Killyleagh.

The crew arrived at the scene at 4.15pm, by which time the 15ft speedboat had already been towed in and was moored at the pontoons at Killyleagh Yacht Club in Strangford Lough.

On both occasions the weather was fine with good visibility and calm seas.

Yesterday (7 July) the volunteer crew launched for the third time to assist an injured woman on Salt Island in Strangford Lough.

The crew arrived at the island at 10.10am and assessed the situation before transporting two paramedics from Killyleagh to the injured woman, who was subsequently airlifted by Irish Coast Guard helicopter to Musgrave Park Hospital in Belfast for treatment.

At 11:35am, while returning to the lifeboat station, the crew was alerted once again, this time to go to the aid of two men onboard a five metre Dory that had lost power and was drifting just off Ringhaddy Sound in Strangford Lough.

The crew arrived on the scene at 12.05pm and took the men onboard the lifeboat, towing the powerless boat into Strangford Lough Yacht Club, where the men were then put ashore and their boat tied up.

Elsewhere in Northern Ireland, Newcastle RNLI assisted two men after their motor cruiser ran aground off the Co Down coast last Thursday (4 July).

The volunteer crew launched their inshore lifeboat at 2.20pm following a report from Belfast Coastguard that a small vessel had ran aground off Dundrum Bar with two people on board.

Weather conditions at the time were described as blowing south westerly four to five winds with moderate to choppy seas. There was good visibility.

The lifeboat, helmed by Nathan Leneghan and with crew members Declan Barry and Charles McClelland on board, arrived on scene at 2.30pm, where they observed that one of the men had made it to shore while the other was still on the 5m boat.

Speaking following the call-out, Newcastle RNLI deputy launching authority Joe McClelland said: "Thankfully, no one was in immediate danger and we were happy to bring the vessel and the man who was still on board safely to shore."

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

#RNLI - Newcastle RNLI’s always-on-call lifeboat crew had to abandon their buckets and sponges during a fundraising car wash at the weekend to respond to an emergency at the Co Down town’s harbour.

The RNLI volunteers were busily soaping and rinsing cars for their annual Easter fundraiser on Saturday when they were alerted to a woman in trouble in the freezing water a few yards from one of the piers.

The car wash was immediately abandoned and within minutes the inshore lifeboat Aldergrove II was launched and rushed to the woman’s aid.

At the same time, crew member Shane Rice grabbed a lifebelt from the pier and jumped into the water to assist the woman. He kept her afloat while the Aldergrove II came alongside.

The woman was helped into the rescue inflatable, wrapped in blankets to prevent hypothermia, and taken back to shore where an ambulance was waiting to take her to hospital.

Newcastle RNLI’s deputy launching authority Clifford Moorehead said afterwards: "The lifeboat crew are always ready to respond in an instant to any emergency. It is fortunate that the car wash was in progress at the time and the crew members were on hand to swiftly deal with this case.

"After the rescue the crew members came back to the harbour and resumed their car wash. It’s just all in a day’s work for the RNLI."

It wasn't the only callout of the weekend for the RNLI in Co Down, as Bangor RNLI assisted a lone sailor who got into difficulty on a sailing dinghy Easter Sunday.

At 1.10pm the volunteer lifeboat crew received an urgent request from Belfast Coastguard to launch the lifeboat and rescue one person from a 17ft dinghy. 

The sailing dinghy had reportedly gone aground on ‘Cockle Island’ off Groomsport Harbour on the southern shores of Belfast Lough.  

Upon arrival at the scene, the volunteer crew found that the occupant onboard the dinghy had been assisted by another boat owner and the vessel had been safely tied to a mooring buoy.  

Meanwhile, last Wednesday evening Portaferry RNLI was launched to reports that red flares has been sighted on Strangford Lough off Kircubbin in Co Down.

They were joined by a coastguard team that searched the shoreline and after some time recovered a spent flare casing. The inshore lifeboat and its volunteer crew were stood down after a number of hours with the callout proving to be a false alarm.

Portaferry RNLI lifeboat operations manager Brian Bailie said: "A member of the public acted in good faith ... alerting the emergency services to what they understood to be a distress flare on the lough."

He reiterated that flares "should only be used in emergency situations".

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.


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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