RNLI lifeboats from four stations in West Cork — Kinsale, Courtmacsherry, Baltimore and Castletownbere — launched a total of 108 times in 2013 saving the lives of 128 people. Overall in Ireland, 1,278 people were rescued. The figures released by the charity last week are based on returns of service from all 44 lifeboat stations in Ireland.
The statistics show that the majority of last year’s call outs were to pleasure craft with fishing vessels taking a far second place. Lifeboat crews also had many call outs to people classed as ashore. These services included assisting people who were ill or injured on an island, cliff or the shoreline, where access by lifeboat was the fastest or safest way to reach the casualty.
On occasions, lifeboat crews are also called upon to rescue animals. Last year throughout Ireland these included four dogs, two sheep, a cow, two whales and a dolphin.
In a year when Ireland enjoyed one of its hottest summers, the overall statistics show an increase of lifeboat launches and rescues.
Throughout the year, there were some dramatic and challenging call outs for the lifeboat crews. In July, 30 people were rescued by Kinsale and Courtmacsherry lifeboat crews when the tall ship Astrid was blown onto rocks and started to take on water off the south coast. Dun Laoghaire RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat and Howth RNLI’s inshore lifeboat rescued six people on Dublin Bay in August after their boat capsized and they were left clinging to the upturned hull.
Reflecting on the year, Martyn Smith, RNLI Operations Manager for Ireland said:
“2013 proved to be another busy year for the RNLI with an increase in both our lifeboat launches and rescues. Our lifeboat crews are highly trained and equipped to deal with the challenges they face and we are indebted to their dedication to respond when the need arises.
“Sadly not every call out results in a rescue and 2013 also brought its share of tragedy. A number of our call outs involved searches for missing people and in some incidents, they involved bringing home loved ones who were lost at sea. These call outs, while challenging for all involved, demonstrate the commitment and seamanship of our crews who devote many hours to a search and recovery effort.”
Looking ahead, Mr Smith reminded the public that irrespective of weather conditions, the water always presents a risk. He recommended that people take care by following some simple safety tips: “We would remind water users to always wear a lifejacket, get the appropriate training, carry a means of calling for help, check engine and fuel, tell others where you are going and check weather and tides.”
Mr Smith concluded by thanking everyone who had contributed to helping the RNLI save lives at sea in 2013: “I would like to say a huge thank-you to our volunteers and all those who support the RNLI, a charity dependent on the generosity of the public, whether by giving up their time or by making a donation. I would also like to acknowledge the efforts of our colleagues in the Irish Coast Guard and emergency services who we worked closely with in 2013.”