By Dan Walsh
The brave lifeboat crew at Rosslare Harbour RNLI, who carried out a rescue during ‘Storm Ophelia’ (October 16th, 2017) that saw three lives saved in hurricane conditions, will receive an award from the RNLI for the service.
The Coxswain Eamonn O’Rourke will receive the Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum and the lifeboat crew involved will each receive Vellum Service Certificates.
The rescue took place in conditions described by the lifeboat crew involved as some of the worst they had ever witnessed as they battled 10-metre seas in force 12 conditions. In announcing this award, the RNLI recognised the Coxswain for his boat handling and exemplary leadership in hurricane force weather conditions and the lifeboat crew involved for their teamwork, courage and collective efforts in the rescue of the crew and the yacht.
The award was decided at a recent RNLI Trustees meeting and is the second recognition for Rosslare Harbour RNLI, following the Gallantry Award for the rescue of the Lily B off Hook Head, which saw nine lives saved and averted an environmental disaster when the 4,000-tonne cargo vessel was prevented from getting dashed on the rocks.
The full lifeboat crew for the callout were, Coxswain Eamonn O’Rourke, Mechanic Michael Nicholas and lifeboat crew, Art Sheil, Micheal Ferguson, Keith Morris, Padraig Quirke, Stephen Breen and Richard Parish.
At 10am on 16 October 2017 a ‘Mayday’ was received by the Irish Coast Guard from the skipper of Second Love, a 10-metre Dehler yacht, in serious trouble en route from the UK to Malahide. With conditions deteriorating rapidly the crew were struggling to keep control of the yacht. They had planned to berth in Rosslare but decided to head to Arklow in a bid to outrun the weather. Rosslare Harbour RNLI lifeboat was launched, and the rescue lasted four hours in severe weather and sea conditions.
In what proved a vital course of action on the day, a decision was made to pass a drogue (a device trailed behind a vessel to slow it down in rough conditions) to the casualty yacht and then establish a tow to bring the vessel to safety. These actions took place in 10-metre seas and required great skill and patience from all involved.
Commenting on the Vellum recognition, Rosslare Harbour RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager David Maloney said; “While no lifeboat crew does any rescue for reward this is a great honour for our station. The conditions that day were terrible but when a Mayday is being broadcast, the lifeboat crew go.’
“The rescue was a challenging one where skill, good seamanship and patience were needed. We are fortunate to have incredibly dedicated and skilled lifeboat crew in Rosslare where each volunteer would have been ready and willing to go to sea. When the pagers went off for this shout, we had eighteen of our lifeboat crew respond. Without their excellent work, the outcome of this service would have been very different.”