RNLI to base lifeboat near location of fishing tragedy

Inshore vessel to be based at Union Hall for two-year trial, says charity

The inshore lifeboat service at Union Hall will be maintained on a 24-month trial basis, after which the RNLI will evaluate whether to establish a permanent station at the busy West Cork fishing port.  Photograph: RNLI/Nigel Millard/PA Wire

The inshore lifeboat service at Union Hall will be maintained on a 24-month trial basis, after which the RNLI will evaluate whether to establish a permanent station at the busy West Cork fishing port. Photograph: RNLI/Nigel Millard/PA Wire

Thu, Nov 7, 2013, 19:04

The RNLI is to establish a lifeboat base in the Cork harbour which was the scene of one of the country’s worst fishing tragedies of recent years when five men lost their lives in the Tit Bonhomme sinking.

The inshore lifeboat service at Union Hall will be maintained on a 24-month trial basis, after which the RNLI will evaluate whether to establish a permanent station at the busy West Cork fishing port.

The five men died on January 15th, 2012, when the Tit Bonhomme trawler struck Adam’s Island at the mouth of Glandore Harbour while returning to port in Union Hall.

During a month-long search operation, Caitlín Uí Aodha, widow of Tit Bonhomme skipper Michael Hayes, called for an inshore lifeboat to be based at Union Hall.

The tragedy led to the establishment of a local campaign body, the Glandore Harbour Inshore Lifeboat Committee, which made representations to the RNLI last May.

According to RNLI regional operations manager for Ireland Martyn Smith, the southwest coast of Cork is an area of significant maritime activity which has seen its share of tragedy.

“While RNLI all-weather lifeboat cover is strong along the Cork coast, we feel there is a strong case for the addition of an inshore lifeboat based at Union Hall,” Mr Smith said.

The new 7-metre inshore lifeboat, which has a top speed of 32 knots, is being drawn from the existing RNLI reserve fleet and will be well-suited to working in inlets and shallow waters.

“The inshore lifeboat complements the work of the larger all-weather lifeboats, which are based at the neighbouring RNLI lifeboat stations of Baltimore and Courtmacsherry,”Mr Smith added.

It is hoped to have the station, which will be located at Union Hall Pier, fully operational and ready for service by mid-2014 with recruitment and training to begin shortly, he added.