Swiss Ambassador Honours Lifeboat

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Published on: March 8, 2009

Both the inshore and all weather crews at Baltimore’s lifeboat station were honoured recently by a letter of appreciation from the Swiss Ambassador to Ireland. His Excellency, Mr Beat Loeliger wrote to commend the crew for their services to Swiss nationals during the early hours of Friday 5th December 2008. Both lifeboats were called out to reports of nine people missing in Long Island Sound. The missing group from Switzerland had set off in a 16-foot punt to travel from the mainland over to Coney Island when their engine failed and worsening weather conditions started filling the small boat with water. Sadly one of the Swiss group died that night but with the assistance of the Lifeboat crews the remainder were delivered to safety. Mr Loeliger noted that in ‘treacherous conditions, the bravery and commitment of all who participated in this rescue was truly outstanding. While tragically one Swiss national lost his life, your heroic actions on that night surely averted an even more appalling tragedy”.

Although Switzerland is landlocked Baltimore Lifeboat station has had Swiss support for many years. Max and Susi Kűhni of Paddy O’Briens Old Irish Pub, Winterthur, have fundraised for the lifeboat for over a decade. Lifeboat crewman, Ronnie Carthy, a regular visitor and performer in Switzerland, is the link for this much appreciated support from Switzerland.

During February the Baltimore Lifeboat station was visited by one of the RNLI’s mobile training units, the Radar and Electronic Navigation unit operated by Trainer Ken Booth. The Unit was parked adjacent to Baltimore sailing club who kindly supplied power and facilities during the courses. Coxswains and Navigators from the all-weather lifeboat crew attended Ken’s courses with the intention of refreshing old skills, new and less experienced crew were also trained up to ensure a critical level of competency within the crew. Ken’s flexible and helpful approach was much appreciated by all.

The current training is focussing on bringing the crew’s skills up to the best level possible in anticipation of the new Tamar class lifeboat arriving in Baltimore late next year. We will have an entirely new generation of lifeboat when the Tamar class all weather lifeboat is introduced. The Tamar is significantly more technically advanced than our current Tyne class lifeboat, Hilda Jarrett, which is 21 years old this year. Training is essential to ensure that we enter this period of change with essential skills for a smooth transition.

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