Donaghadee RNLI Helps Kilkeel Disabled Trawler

Donaghadee RNLI Lifeboat launched to assist trawler in difficulty and unsure of its location

The volunteer RNLI lifeboat crew from Donaghadee lifeboat station were paged by HM Coastguard at 2.12am on the morning of Thursday 25 April.

A 40-ft fishing trawler with one person onboard, was on passage from Rothesay in the Isle of Bute to Kilkeel, County Down, when they contacted the Coastguard to report that they had no electrics to support their navigation equipment.

However, they did have power and steering, but they were not confident of their location and thought they may be in Belfast Lough. Subsequently the Coastguard activated the pagers of Donaghadee lifeboat crew to request them to launch.

With a crew of seven onboard RNLI lifeboat Macquarie was underway seven minutes later.

The sea was calm with a light westerly wind and they were able to make full speed in the general direction of the trawlers last reported location – just north of Portpatrick.

The RNLB Macquarie which assisted a trawler in difficulties.

As the trawler had no electrics this meant that it also had no navigation lights, leaving the boat with its skipper, at risk of not being visible to a larger vessel at sea and restricting its own visibility.

The Coastguard liased with the crew on the lifeboat and reported an up-to-date rough latitude and longitude from the fishing trawler which enable them to have a more accurate direction to take.

Iain Kaleda, the mechanic onboard the lifeboat, was able to establish both phone contact and later VHF contact with the skipper.

As the skipper had a handheld VHF onboard, it allowed the crew of the lifeboat to use their direction finding equipment to gain a more exact location for the trawler.

At 3.15am the vessel was located approximately 18 miles north of Donaghadee, the crew established that the skipper was safe and well.

It was agreed that given he still had no electrics that it was best that they escort him to the safety of Bangor marina.

At approximately 5.30am the trawler then also lost engine power.

There was still quite a way to go to the safety of the marina and given the danger to both the vessel and other shipping in the area the coxswain of the lifeboat decided that it was best to secure a towline to the fishing trawler and tow it with its skipper, to safety.

After towing for about an hour the lifeboat and the casualty vessel arrived into the safety of Bangor marina where they were met by Bangor Coastguard Rescue Team and Bangor marina’s local cat.

Following this call out, Iain Kaleda, Station Mechanic, said”: “Issues like this do happen on vessels and this skipper made the best decision to contact the Coastguard early and ask for assistance.

“We go to sea to help any casualty regardless of how or why they became in difficulty.

“We do recommend always checking that you have a means of communication with a VHF being an ideal option as it does allow the lifeboat to use its direction finding equipment, which is key to locating a casualty.

“We wish the skipper a safe onward passage when repairs are made.’

Donaghadee lifeboat station has been saving lives at sea and assisting vessels in distress since 1910.

To learn more about the lifeboat station go to: