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Dublin: 12 °C Wednesday 8 July, 2020
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New Castletownbere lifeboat station will speed up rescues

The station and pontoon will see six minutes shaved off the time taken to leave for rescues.

The new station and pontoon
The new station and pontoon
Image: RNLI

CASTLETOWNBERE’S NEW LIFEBOAT station will shave six minutes off the time it takes the local RNLI volunteers to leave on their life-saving duties.

The lifeboat station was declared open yesterday by marine correspondent Tom MacSweeney at a special ceremony. There was also a service of dedication where the boathouse was blessed and the station was officially handed over to Castletownbere RNLI.

New era

It marked a new era for the volunteers, who have had to operate from temporary accommodation for almost 17 years, Paul Stevens, Second Coxswain and Volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer, told TheJournal.ie.

Stevens  said:

Since Castletownbere lifeboat station was established in 1997, we have been very fortunate in the level of support we have received both locally and from further afield. We have dedicated lifeboat volunteers and supporters and now we have a station that reflects that.

He described the new digs as “the final piece of the puzzle”. “It’s fantastic – today really is about celebrating that with local community,” said Stevens on Saturday.

No longer will they have to operate from a Portakabin, while they will save six minutes off the time it takes for them to leave for rescues in their all-weather Severn class lifeboat Annette Hutton.

The volunteer lifeboat crew moved into the new station late last year after spending 15 years in temporary accommodation at Dinish Island. The new station and pontoon were built on reclaimed land in Castletownbere and the entire project cost €950,000.

It includes a two-storey lifeboat station with an adjoining pontoon from where the station’s lifeboat launches. The building was designed by Gordon Philips, who has worked on seven RNLI lifeboat stations for the charity.

Work on the lifeboat station was carried out by Castletownbere construction and the pontoon was constructed by Crowley Engineering in Cork.

The project was made possible by the provision from the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine to the RNLI of a plot of reclaimed land.

In the case of tragedies, there is now a private place where families can come to see their loved one. Additionally, there are lots of crew training rooms for the 18 volunteers to make use of. “It’s a new start after today,” said a proud Stevens.

Rescues

Castletownbere RNLI typically sees around 15 callouts every year. IT has launched 223 times since the lifeboat was first put on service and its crews have rescued 288 people and saved 30 lives.

In July 2007, Castletownbere launched with their neighbours in Baltimore following reports of a capsized rib in heavy seas with one man missing. While the man was rescued by lifeboat crew, the call out turned out to be part of the biggest drugs seizure in the State.

Joining Tom MacSweeney in officiating yesterday’s ceremony were John Nolan, chairman of the Castletownbere RNLI Lifeboat Management Group, John Coyle, chairman of the Irish RNLI Council, Tony O’Sullivan, Castletownbere RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager, Father Sean O’Shea, RNLI Chaplain and Reverend Paul Willoughby.

Read: Eleven rescued as fishing vessel grounded off Cork coast>

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