Gallant lifeboat crews honoured for role in saving lives

Tense 12-hour rescue off Wexford coast last October in force nine winds with 10m waves

The lifeboat crews made multiple attempts to establish a tow with the Lily B cargo vessel.

The lifeboat crews made multiple attempts to establish a tow with the Lily B cargo vessel.

 

Three Irish lifeboat crews will receive gallantry awards for their role in saving nine lives in a dramatic 12-hour rescue operation off the Wexford coast last October in gusting force nine conditions with waves up to 10m high.

RNLI lifeboat crews from Dunmore East, Kilmore Quay and Rosslare Harbour along with the crew of Irish Coast Guard helicopter Rescue 117, the staff of the National Maritime Operations Centre in Dublin and the master and crew of the tug Tramontine will be recognised for their efforts in the rescue of the nine people off Hook Head.

All were involved in a 12-hour operation to prevent the Lily B, a 100m cargo vessel carrying 4,000 tonnes of coal, from hitting rocks off the Wexford headland.

The coxswains of the three crews will receive bronze medals, one of the highest awards presented by the lifesaving RNLI charity.

The lifeboat crews involved will receive medal certificates and recognition will also be given to the crew of Irish Coast Guard helicopter Rescue 117, the staff of the National Maritime Operations Centre in Dublin and the master and crew of the tug Tramontine.

The Lily B, a cargo vessel, had lost all power just two nautical miles off Hook Head. “Conditions on scene were force eight with severe force nine gusts and wave heights between 8 and 10m. The Lily B was drifting and in danger of striking rocks on Hook Head or capsizing in the heavy seas,” according to the RNLI.

The lifeboat crews made multiple attempts over 12 hours to establish a tow between the vessel and lifeboats.

“With the crew of the Lily B unable to stay on deck for long in the poor conditions and with language difficulties, two of the lifeboats were eventually successful in passing a rope on deck by using a rocket line and pulling the cargo vessel clear of the rocks. The lifeboat tow was maintained for three hours with waves continually crashing over the decks until the tug vessel Tramontine from Waterford Port arrived on scene and took up the tow. The three lifeboats stayed with the Lily B until they reached the safety of the Waterford estuary.”

RNLI director of lifesaving John Payne said “those crew involved demonstrated that unique blend of courage, selflessness, dependability and trustworthiness, at their best, in the most demanding of conditions. Without question their combined actions saved lives at sea.”

The RNLI’s board of trustees recommended that coxswains Roy Abrahamsson (Dunmore East), Eugene Kehoe (Kilmore Quay) and Eamon O’Rourke (Rosslare Harbour) should receive the bronze medal for gallantry “for their fine display of seamanship and boat-handling skills in atrocious weather conditions, in securing a tow and determination to succeed resulting in the saving of nine lives”.

All three lifeboat crew members will receive a medal service certificate for what RNLI area lifesaving manager Joe Moore described as “the difficulty of the service, the challenges that were faced by the lifeboat crews during their 12 hours at sea and the tragedy and environmental disaster that was averted off the Irish coast”.

The Irish Coast Guard helicopter Rescue 117 crew will also receive a medal service certificate for their “top cover and reassurance to all the crews below for the duration of the service”.

Letters of appreciation will also be presented to the staff of the National Maritime Operations Centre in Dublin and the master and crew of the tug Tramontine.

The lifeboat crews to be awarded are:

Dunmore East RNLI crew: Roy Abrahamsson (coxswain); David Murray (mechanic); Neville Murphy (navigator); and crewmembers Peter Curran, Jon Walsh, Luka Sweeney and Kevin Dingley.

Kilmore Quay RNLI crew: Eugene Kehoe (coxswain); Philip Walsh (mechanic); Aidan Bates (navigator); and crew members Trevor Devereux and Sam Nunn.

Rosslare Harbour RNLI crew: Eamon O’Rourke (coxswain); Mick Nicholas (mechanic); Keith Miller (navigator); and crew members Pádraig Quirke, Michael Sinnott, Eoghan Quirke and Paul McCormack.