Station history

The Islay station was first established at Port Askaig in 1934 but owing to manning difficulties the lifeboat was transferred to Port Ellen in 1947. In 1948 the station was re-established at Port Askaig and was renamed Islay.

1912

Silver Medal awarded to Duncan Campbell for rescuing very gallantly four of the crew of the ss Ena of Kragero, which was wrecked on the Mull of Oa, Islay, in a strong gale and very heavy sea on 21 October 1911. Campbell entered the sea and with great difficulty and danger, owing to a heavy surf, succeeded in reaching a rock, from which position he was able to get into communication with the vessel and by means of his personal exertions he saved the men.

1938

On 26 October 1936 the Latvian steamer Helena Faulbaums of Riga was driven onto rocks at the island of Beul-nan-uamh and foundered in a few minutes. Because of the severe storm it was some hours before the news reached Port Askaig at 1 am. Leaving his sick bed Coxswain Peter MacPhee took command of the lifeboat and eventually reached the scene of the wreck some 30 miles away at 9 am. Four of the crew of 20 survived, managing to get ashore and were rescued by the lifeboat using breeches buoy. For this service Coxswain MacPhee was awarded the Latvian Order of the Three Stars. The ship-owner presented a Communion Cup and plate to the local church.

1950

After the General Election the ballot boxes from the Island of Colonsay were brought to the mainland by the Islay lifeboat.

The gift from Mrs B M Porter given for the bravest deed of the year by a member of the lifeboat crew was given to Coxswain Duncan McNeil for fastening a rope to a drifting mine so that the lifeboat could tow it ashore on 12 April. Coxswain McNeil had already received the King's Commendation for bravery.

1953

On 31 January two members of the crew, Second Coxswain A McNeill and Assistant Mechanic John MacTaggart collapsed in the engine room and died while the lifeboat was searching for the trawler Michael Griffiths'. Their dependants received pensions from the Institution.

1957

An award of a case of rum for the longest winter service made by Sugar Cane Manufacturers Association of Jamaica was made to the crew for a service of 26 hours on 26/27 January.

1959

Bronze Medal to Coxswain James Gillies for rescuing by breeches buoy the crew of four from the fishing vessel May which ran ashore on a reef immediately east of the Black Rock Buoy in the Sound of Islay on 27 October 1959.  

After the General Election the ballot boxes from the Island of Colonsay were brought to the mainland by the Islay lifeboat.

1970

Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum accorded to Second Coxswain M Mackay and Assistant Mechanic Archibald Campbell for the service on 1 September when they boarded the boarding boat to rescue two women and four children who were stranded on Chuirn Island. Framed Letters of Thanks, signed by the Chairman, were also sent to Coxswain D J McPhee and the remaining crew.

1973

Bronze Medal awarded Acting Coxswain Malcolm Mackay for rescuing the crew of three of the coaster Raylight that had engine failure five miles north of Skervuile, Sound of Jura, on 25 December 1972. In a south-easterly gale and very rough sea the coasters crew had taken to a dinghy, so with a high degree of skill and fine seamanship the coxswain manoeuvred the lifeboat so the men could be plucked from the dinghy that was just 30 feet from the rocks.

A Bronze Second-Service clasp awarded to Acting Coxswain Malcolm Mackay for taking off the captain and his crew of nine from the tanker Olga aground on Bhride Island on the evening of the 27 March 1973. The lifeboat was on service a total of 57 hours in deteriorating weather from 2200 on 27 March to 0700 on 30 March.

1979

The Watson class lifeboat withdrawn and replaced by a Thames lifeboat.

1979

The Islay lifeboat, a Thames class named Helmut Schroder of Dunlossit, capsized at 0145 on 18 November off the west coast of Scotland whilst answering a distress call from the Danish coaster Lone Dania The Barra Island lifeboat, a Barnett class, also capsized at 0346 whilst on service to the same casualty. Both lifeboats righted successfully without loss of life by their different righting methods. The Barra Island lifeboat was fitted with an air bag which automatically inflates in the event of a capsize, whilst the Islay lifeboat was inherently self-righting by means of a watertight super-structure. It was the first time that either of these classes of lifeboat had capsized on service and the Institution's inquiry found that "there was no failure of the lifeboats or their equipment which contributed to the capsizes." An analysis of the weather on that night shows that the winds were gusting to force 11/12 and the significant height of the waves was around 30 feet with a ten per cent chance of encountering a sea of 60 feet. These seas were described by the investigator as "diabolical" and the coxswain of the Islay lifeboat stated that the weather was as bad as he had experienced in 17 years in the lifeboat service.

1992

A collective Framed Letter of Thanks signed by the Chairman of the Institution, Michael Vernon was presented to Coxswain Mechanic Thomas Johnston, Second Coxswain Emergency Mechanic Alasdair Barker, Assistant Mechanic James Hamilton, Deputy Second Coxswain Iain Spears and crew members David MacLellan and Michael Stringer for a service carried out on 18 December 1991 when the Helmut Schroder of Dunlossit lifeboat went to the assistance of the Russian fish factory vessel Kartli. The vessel had reported engine failure in gale force winds and very rough seas nine miles west of the Rhinns of Islay lighthouse. By the time the lifeboat arrived on scene the casualty's crew had taken to the life-rafts, and together with other ships, helicopters, coastguard and an RAF Nimrod aircraft, the lifeboat searched the area until all the crew of the factory ship had been accounted for.

1996

Work commenced in November 1995 and was successfully completed in February 1996, to upgrade the facilities to enable a Severn class lifeboat to be placed on station.

1997

Lifeboat ON1219 Helmut Schroder of Dunlossit II replaced the Thames class lifeboat.

2008

The Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum were accorded to Coxswain David MacLellan in recognition of his leadership and seamanship during a service on 4 January 2008 when the Islay lifeboat under his command saved the fishing vessel Niamh Aine and her crew of seven. The 18 metre fishing vessel was rigged for catching crabs had had an internal pipework failure causing flooding of the vessel from one of her vivier tanks. The service, which lasted 18 hours, took place in adverse force 8/9 winds and a six metre swell. A pump was passed, a tow was established and the fishing vessel towed 44 miles to safety

MEDAL RECORD

One Silver and three Bronze medals have been awarded, the last being voted in 1973.

FOREIGN AWARD

Latvian Government awarded the Latvian Order of the Three Stars to Coxswain Peter MacPhee for the rescue of four crew men from the steamer Helena Faulbaums on 26 October 1936.