WEST Cork’s four lifeboats were called to action 76 times in 2011 rescuing 80 people in the process, figures released by the RNLI confirmed today.
The busiest boats in the region were the Baltimore lifeboat which was launched 22 times with 33 rescued, and Kinsale also launched 22 times with 23 rescued.
Courtmacsherry was called out 21 times rescuing 22 people and Castletownbere attended 11 times with 2 rescued.
Near neighbours Crosshaven RNLI were the second busiest station in the country launching 46 times and assisting 43 people.
The busiest station was Howth in Dublin which launched 48 times bringing 60 people to safety.
In total RNLI lifeboats on the Island of Ireland launched 980 times during the year with 905 people rescued by volunteer lifeboat crews who spent over 9,826 hours on service at sea.
The busiest month for rescues was July with 155 launches followed by August with 124 calls for assistance.
February 2011 was the busiest February for Irish launches in the RNLI’s history, as were May and October 2011.
Over a third of the RNLI’s callouts for last year were also carried out in darkness. The statistics show that launches to vessels suffering machinery failure still account for the largest number of callouts (187) followed by vessels reported to be in trouble (78), grounded (74) and capsizing (73).
RNLI Deputy Divisional Inspector Gareth Morrison said, “Our lifeboat volunteers continue to show selfless dedication and commitment to saving lives.
“Some stations are extremely busy while others have less callouts but spend long hours at sea in awful conditions.
“There were some outstanding rescues last year including that to Rambler 100, in which Baltimore RNLI recovered 16 crewmembers off the upturned hull of the racing boat during the Fastnet race.
“Sadly there were also long searches for missing loved ones.”
Inspector Morrison said the work of the volunteer lifeboat crews would not be possible without the generosity of the public who in difficult times continue to support Irish lifeboat crews.
“While these figures give an interesting insight into search and rescue by the RNLI on Irish waters they are by no means the full story.
“As well as working to save lives at sea the RNLI provides other programmes and services for the public including sea safety advice and clinics, education road shows and visits to lifeboat stations,” he said.
The 2011 figures are being released in the wake of the RNLI Lifejackets for Lifesavers campaign which will see every lifeboat station in Ireland take delivery of new specially designed lifejackets in September.
The lifejackets have been commissioned by the RNLI for search and rescue work and have been given the seal of approval from lifeboat volunteers.
The cost of providing the lifejackets for all 43 lifeboat stations in Ireland is estimated at €160,000.
The Baltimore Lifeboat launching from the slipway from www.irishlifeboats.com