NEWCASTLE’S busy lifeboat launched eleven times to answer distress calls during the summer months making it one of the busiest stations in Northern Ireland.
The figures, which cover the period June 1 to August 31, are up on last year’s figure when the lifeboats launched eight times.
Among the callouts, the charity’s volunteer lifeboat crew in Newcastle was involved in a rescue after a 16-foot cruiser with four onboard sank in the harbour area. Crew members were also involved in a search for a missing teenage girl and in a separate incident came to the aid of two canoeists who got into difficulty.
Across Northern Ireland this summer, RNLI lifeboats launched 106 times, a slight drop on last year’s total of 115. Crews were involved in many different types of callouts to a range of casualties.
Many of the launches were due to people getting into difficulty due to tides, problems with a vessel’s engines or machinery and an increasing range of leisure activities. However there were also a number of tragedies and many of the RNLI’s lifeboat crews were involved in searching for missing loved ones or in bringing them home.
The busiest station in Northern Ireland and overall in Ireland was Enniskillen, which operates two inshore lifeboats on Lough Erne and two Rescue Water Craft.
It was followed in Northern Ireland by the lifeboat crews in Portrush and Bangor who launched 18 times each. The next busiest station was Newcastle, followed by Portaferry RNLI which launched nine times. Lifeboat crews at Donaghadee, Kilkeel and Red Bay all launched seven times each while Larne RNLI launched six times.
Alongside the rescues and calls for assistance for the RNLI, there were also a number of tragedies this summer. During one five day period in August five lives were lost in four separate tragedies in the south of Ireland. Lifeboat crews searched alongside colleagues in the Irish Coast Guard, divers with the Garda and Navy as well as local clubs and with local boats and volunteers to find the missing people.
Owen Medland, RNLI Training Divisional Inspector said: “This has been another busy summer for the RNLI despite the unpredictable weather. There have been some stories of incredible bravery and also some stories of devastating loss. In all cases our lifeboat volunteers have shown extreme professionalism and commitment. Each and every callout is different and conditions, location, duration and activity can all vary. In many cases our volunteers are involved in callouts that go on for a number of hours throughout the night and then will have to go to work.”
There are 44 RNLI lifeboat stations in Ireland with three operating inland at Enniskillen, Lough Derg in Dromineer and Lough Ree. Lifeboat crews at these stations operate 56 lifeboats and two rescue water craft.