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Historic trip for Holyhead RNLI lifeboat crew

Lifeboats News Release

Members of Holyhead RNLI lifeboat crew recently made an emotional trip to visit a very special lifeboat in the station’s history.

Chatham Historic Dockyard

Holyhead RNLI crew with the 'St. Cybi' at Chatham Historic Dockyard.

The St Cybi was the town’s lifeboat from 1950 to 1980 and was used in some very prominent rescues. The most famous of which was the Nafsiporos rescue of 1966, where crews from Holyhead and Moelfre lifeboat stations risked their lives battling waves as big as houses and 100mph winds to pluck Greek sailors to safety from the wildly listing 1287-ton Greek cargo ship as it drifted dangerously towards rocks north of Anglesey

A total of 15 Greek sailors were rescued from the Nafsiporos by the volunteer lifeboat crews and despite the hurricane conditions, nobody lost their lives in a rescue mission lasting 24 hours. It remains one of the most decorated rescues in the RNLI’s history – with all 17 crew on board the Holyhead and Moelfre lifeboats awarded rare medals for gallantry.

The St Cybi lifeboat now has pride of place at the Chatham Historic Dockyard in Kent, and is visited by thousands of people every year. But staff at the dockyard were thrilled to welcome the Holyhead visitors; especially the now Lifeboat Operation Manager (LOM) Graham Drinkwater, who took part in the famous rescue as his first ever call out over 50 years ago.

Also taking part on the pilgrimage were current coxswain Tony Price, Deputy Launch Authority (DLA) David Owens, and crew members Mark Wade, Reece Jones and Stephen Gregg, and other lifeboat enthusiasts.

DLA David Owens said it had been a real honour to visit the Chatham Dockyard:

'It was a fantastic idea of the current coxswain to visit the lifeboat just after the 50th anniversary of her most famous rescue, and especially to be alongside Graham who was on the rescue himself. It was a privilege to see him reminisce about his years on the crew, and the staff at the dockyard, who are lovingly restoring the boat were just as thrilled to have Graham there and hear his stories.'

Notes to editors:

For more information please contact Vicki Owens, Holyhead RNLI Lifeboat Press Officer, on 07531 681409 or Chris Cousens, RNLI Regional Media Officer, Wales and West, on 07748 265496 or 01745 585162 or by email on

Chatham Historic Dockyard

Graham Drinkwater, who served on the 'St Cybi' during the famous Nafsiporos rescue and for decades afterwards.

Jez Endean

Crew and lifeboat enthusiasts visiting the 'St Cybi' at Chatham Historic Dockyad

Jez Endean

Crew and lifeboat enthusiasts from Holyhead inside the 'St Cybi'

Key facts about the RNLI

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution is the charity that saves lives at sea. Our volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service in the United Kingdom and Ireland from 238 lifeboat stations, including four along the River Thames and inland lifeboat stations at Loch Ness, Lough Derg, Enniskillen, Carrybridge and Lough Ree. Additionally the RNLI has more than 1,000 lifeguards on over 240 beaches around the UK and operates a specialist flood rescue team, which can respond anywhere across the UK and Ireland when inland flooding puts lives at risk.

The RNLI relies on public donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. As a charity it is separate from, but works alongside, government-controlled and funded coastguard services. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824 our lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved at least 140,000 lives. Volunteers make up 95% of the charity, including 4,600 volunteer lifeboat crew members and 3,000 volunteer shore crew. Additionally, tens of thousands of other dedicated volunteers raise funds and awareness, give safety advice, and help in our museums, shops and offices.

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The RNLI is a charity registered in England and Wales (209603) and Scotland (SC037736). Charity number 20003326 in the Republic of Ireland