The RNLI have released figures of rescue operations in 2013 for the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. In Ireland, the RNLI launched 1,087 times in 2013 bringing 1,278 people to safety while in Northern Ireland, they launched 255 times, bringing 245 people to safety.
The statistics show that the majority of calls in Ireland last year were to pleasure craft which accounted for 583 services, while there were 138 launches to fishing vessels and 109 of the call outs in the North took place in the dark.
In a year when Ireland enjoyed one of its hottest summers, the overall statistics show an increase of 132 lifeboat launches in 2013, up from 955 in 2012 to 1,087. There was also an upsurge in the number of rescues with 221 more people brought to safety over the 12 month period. 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.
Republic of Ireland RNLI Stats
Dun Laoghaire RNLI’s all-weather and inshore lifeboats had the most launches in 2013, with its crew rescuing 67 people during 58 call outs.
Enniskillen RNLI, which operates from two inland stations in Fermanagh, brought the most people to safety, with 82 individuals rescued from 56 call outs. More than half of those services were carried out in the dark.
Portrush RNLI in county Antrim had 47 call outs bringing 33 people to safety while the volunteer crew in Howth launched their two lifeboats 46 times last year rescuing 78 people.
It was also a busy year for Kilmore Quay in county Wexford which operates a Tamar class lifeboat – the most technologically advanced in the Irish fleet. The lifeboat crew there rescued 76 people during 43 call outs. Further south in county Cork, inshore lifeboat stations at Crosshaven and Kinsale launched 42 and 41 times respectively bringing 36 people to safety in Crosshaven and 54 in Kinsale.
The charity’s lifeboat crews also had 142 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 10 occasions, lifeboat crews were also called upon to rescue animals in 2013. These included four dogs, two sheep, a cow, two whales and a dolphin.
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.
Northern Ireland RNLI Stats:
Enniskillen RNLI, which operates from two inland stations on Upper and Lower Lough Erne in county Fermanagh, had the most call outs launching 56 times over the 12 months bringing 82 people to safety. Portrush RNLI in county Antrim had 47 call outs bringing 33 people to safety while Bangor RNLI in county Down launched 31 times and rescued 23 people.
Northern Ireland experienced one of its hottest summers for years and this was reflected in a busy season for the 10 RNLI lifeguard units which are located on beaches in county Down and along the Causeway Coast. In all, RNLI lifeguards responded to 302 incidents compared to 159 in 2012 and came to the aid of 330 people who found themselves in difficulty, which is an increase of 153 from the year before.
The Causeway Coast, where there are seven units, was the busiest area, with lifeguards responding to 222 incidents and assisting 247 people. Among these incidents was the dramatic rescue of a family of six in Castlerock after they got caught in a flash rip – a strong current running out to sea.
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’, Mr Smith continued, ‘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.’
Pic: Courtesy RNLI