12 October 2021
Three Lifeboat Coxwains to Receive RNLI Bronze Medals for Gallant Rescue
The RNLI is to present three lifeboat crews in Ireland with gallantry awards for their role in a rescue last October that saved nine lives and prevented a 100-metre cargo vessel, carrying 4,000 tonnes of coal, from hitting rocks at Hook Head.
The Coxswains including Eamon O’Rourke of Dublin Port Company’s Harbour Operations team and of Rosslare RNLI along with his colleagues of Dunmore East RNLI and Kilmore Quay RNLI are to receive RNLI Bronze Medals for Gallantry – one of the highest awards presented by the lifesaving charity – while the volunteer lifeboat crews who responded to the callout will each receive Medal Certificates. 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.
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. Conditions onboard the lifeboats were unpleasant in the rolling and pitching seas. The volunteer crews displayed fortitude, perseverance and courage to remain focused whilst under the most testing conditions, often up to their knees in water and heaving decks. The unity of purpose and sense of “One Crew” displayed by all contributed significantly to the successful outcome in a protracted 12-hour service.’
On 20 October 2020, Dunmore East RNLI, Kilmore Quay RNLI and Rosslare Harbour RNLI, along with Rescue 117, conducted a joint rescue operation off the Wexford coast. The Lily B, a 100-metre general cargo vessel with nine crew and carrying 4,000 tonnes of coal, had lost all power, just two nautical miles from Hook Head. Conditions on scene were force eight with severe force nine gusts and wave heights between eight and ten metres. The Lily B was drifting and in danger of striking rocks on Hook Head or capsizing in the heavy seas.
The 12-hour service in challenging conditions saw multiple attempts by the lifeboat crews involved to establish a tow between the casualty vessel and the 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. The rescue operation was finally stood down after 12 hours at sea for the lifeboat crews.
The three coxswains — Roy Abrahamsson of Dunmore East, Eugene Kehoe of Kilmore Quay and Dublin Port Company’s Eamon O’Rourke of Rosslare Harbour — were informed of the awards by RNLI area lifesaving manager Joe Moore, who said: “In recommending these awards, the RNLI Trustees recognise 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.”
In reviewing the service, the RNLI also recommended a Medal Service Certificate for the crew of Irish Coast Guard helicopter Rescue 117 for their top cover and reassurance to all the crews below for the duration of the service.
Signed 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.
List of lifeboat crew to be honoured by station:
- 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 crewmembers Trevor Devereux and Sam Nunn.
- Rosslare Harbour RNLI crew: Eamon O’Rourke (Coxswain), Mick Nicholas (Mechanic), Keith Miller (Navigator) crewmembers Padraig Quirke, Michael Sinnott, Eoghan Quirke and Paul McCormack.
The rescue of the Lily B will feature in the BBC Two documentary series ‘Saving Lives at Sea’ on Tuesday 12th October at 8pm.
Learn more: BBC Saving Lives at Sea
Photo Credit: RNLI/Roy Abrahamsson