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Published on: December 1, 2012

Dec 1st 2012

The naming ceremony of the Tamar Class Alan Massey at Baltimore Pier on Saturday, September 22nd was a historic event in the life of the station. The new lifeboat was substantially funded by a legacy from Ms Dorothy May Massey in honour of her late brother Alan together with the generous bequests of Henry and Joan Jermyn, John Noel Harvey Ward and John Heath. Ms Dorothy May Massey was born in 1906 and lived in Watford.  She was the youngest of three children.  She passed away in 2003 aged 97. Mrs Sue Windsor, a close family friend of Ms Massey, named the lifeboat, in the traditional way by breaking a bottle of champagne over the bow.


Declan Tiernan, Chairperson of the Baltimore Lifeboat Station stated that the lifeboat has already proved its worth.  RNLI Operations Director Michael Vlasto OBE, who travelled to Baltimore to accept the lifeboat into the care of the Institution commented, “Baltimore’s lifeboats have a proud history of lifesaving dating back to 1919 and since then have launched 718 times and in so doing have rescued 661 people.  Ten medals have been awarded, the last being voted in 1992 to the current Coxswain Kieran Cotter. Tom Bushe, Baltimore Lifeboat Operations Manager accepted the lifeboat into the care of the Baltimore Lifeboat station.

The event included local school children from Rath National School who sang the lifeboat anthem Home from the Sea and groups of musicians including the Rathmore Church Choir, The Baltimore Singers and HX Brass. Refreshments were provided in Baltimore Sailing Club and kindly sponsored by the Musgrave family.

Baltimore was the 4th busiest station in Ireland this summer (June to August) clocking up 8 services each for the inshore lifeboat, Bessie and all-weather lifeboat, Alan Massey. The busiest station overall in Ireland was Enniskillen, which operates two inshore lifeboats on Lough Erne and two Rescue Water Craft who launched 23 times, followed by Dun Laoghaire, Bangor and Portrush who all launched 18 times each.

The ILB Bessie left our service on September 9th after 5 years in Baltimore to be replaced by a newer version of the Atlantic 75 the City of Bradford V. The new 75 will remain in the compound at the pier until renovations in the boathouse at Bull Point are complete. The 75 will go on an adapted carriage on the boathouse slip and will be replaced subsequently by an Atlantic 85. The ALB is already moored at her new berth east of the boathouse. She lies afloat alongside a pontoon for easy boarding with a pier and breakwater providing shelter. Donovan’s boatyard in Oldcourt provide facilities for periodic cleaning and inspection when required.

The rescues and assistance offered by both lifeboats over the past 6 months are too many to recount in detail but some events stand out.

On Saturday evening August 4th two teenagers, a boy and a girl were reported missing from Mill Cove, Rosscarbery after they had not returned home at their expected time.  A huge search was mounted involving Baltimore RNLI and Irish Coast Guard Units. At 23:00, while the search was ongoing, Baltimore RNLI lifeboat Helm John Kearney heard what he thought was a faint whistle coming from Pouldav cave, known locally for its blow hole. The lifeboat crew was aboard the RNLI Atlantic 75 inshore lifeboat Bessie but could not enter the cave due to the dangerous surf conditions.  The lifeboat crew then launched a small boarding boat from their all-weather lifeboat Alan Massey with volunteer crewmembers Ger Sheehy and Sean McCarthy. This smaller boat could only advance within 50 meters of the cave summit due to the area being awash with surf and again too dangerous. RNLI crewmember John Kearney, an experienced sea swimmer, went into the water and swam the last 50 meters to reach the two kayakers. The boy and girl were clinging to a rock surface while waves broke around them.

Both the young people were cold and tired. John carried each of them in turn over his shoulder in chest high water to the boarding boat. Considerable skill was required of Ger Sheehy to keep the small boat steady so that they could be retrieved with the assistance of Sean McCarthy. The girl and boy were then taken to the inshore lifeboat, where they were given a medical assessment and deemed to be fit to return to shore. The inshore lifeboat brought them directly to their families at Mill Cove slip, where a Doctor assessed them.  The entire incident took place in the hours of darkness

Commenting on the rescue Baltimore RNLI Helm John Kearney said, “the water in the cave was churning like a washing machine. However I was convinced that I had heard a sound and was concerned for the safety of the kayakers.  I will never forget the relief I felt when I saw the two young people alive and safe inside the cave.  They were very brave and did exactly what they needed to do to get to safety.  We are very lucky to have two lifeboats in Baltimore, and by using all of our available resources and training we were able to bring these young people to safety.” In spite of John’s modest words this rescue was a remarkable achievement in difficult and dangerous circumstances. The work of the Lifeboats does not always result in such a positive outcome.

Both the inshore lifeboat and all weather lifeboats launched on the evening of September 4th in response to a request from the coastguard to assist in locating a diver reported missing earlier that afternoon. The diver had been one of a party of three diving at a wreck site 12 miles south of Baltimore, the wreck of the Minnehaha. Weather conditions were excellent with a 1.5m swell and force 3-4 winds. The Navy vessel LE Ciara, Coastguard Helicopter 115 and the Holly Joe were all involved in the search. As darkness approached the inshore lifeboat was stood down and returned to Baltimore at 21.10 approx. Onboard the B-class ILB Bessie, were Helm Youen Jacob, Shane MacSweeney and Ger O’Brien. On board the Tamar class ALB Alan Massey, were Coxswain Kieran Cotter, Cathal Cottrell (mechanic), John Rochford, Brian MacSweeney, Jerry Smith and Aidan Bushe. The ALB resumed the search at 7am the following morning and continued searching all day. Sadly the missing diver was never found.

On August 9th the ILB was again pressed into service when a 20ft yacht with 5 persons on board went aground on a falling tide. The alarm was raised at 3pm. Helm Kieran Collins with crew Jason Pavry and Diarmuid Collins proceeded to the location near Seal Rock, Heir Island. A passing RIB had taken the family of 4 and a baby girl onboard whilst the lifeboat crew attempted to dislodge the yacht. They rocked it on its perch getting enough leverage for the powerful twin engined lifeboat to pull her clear. Unsure of its seaworthiness, the yacht was towed to its moorings in the Cove. They returned to Baltimore Harbour to loud cheering as Katy Taylor won Olympic Gold in London. Just like our volunteer rescue services, an ordinary person achieving the extraordinary.



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