Aran Islands RNLI in eight-hour callout to fishing vessel in difficulty during aftermath of Storm Barra

The Aran Islands RNLI volunteer lifeboat crew launched their all-weather Severn class lifeboat on Wednesday 8 December to go to the aid of a fishing vessel in difficulty, during the aftermath of Storm Barra.

Aran Islands RNLI All Weather Lifeboat returning in the dark after callout

Photo: Galway RNLI/ David McGrath

Aran Islands RNLI All Weather Lifeboat after Storm Barra callout

The request to launch was made by the Irish Coast Guard at 1.14pm and was to assist a French registered fishing vessel which had got into difficulty in poor weather off Inis Mór. The volunteer lifeboat crew launched under Coxswain John O'Donnell and immediately made their way to the scene. The French registered fishing vessel, 28.5 metres in length, was experiencing engine difficulty in challenging conditions with an eight-metre swell and a strong North-Westerly wind.

When the lifeboat arrived on scene, a sister ship had taken up the tow of the casualty vessel. Following a consultation between the casualty vessel and the Irish Coast Guard a decision was made that they would be taken into Galway Harbour under tow. The Aran Islands lifeboat crew stayed with both vessels for the duration of the passage, until they were safely moored, an operation that took over eight hours. The lifeboat crew were met at the docks by lifeboat colleague, Galway RNLI Deputy Launching Authority Paul Clearly, who looked after the crew following the long callout.

Speaking after the callout Aran Islands RNLI Coxswain John O'Donnell said:
'Conditions at sea were extremely challenging and the Coast Guard was right to request the lifeboat to stand by and ensure both vessels got to safety.  Towing a vessel in these conditions is slow and difficult work and with the force of the waves it could have easily parted. If that had happened, we were ready to step in and complete the tow. Thankfully both vessels made it to safety, with the lifeboat staying alongside for the entire journey. 

‘The island-based volunteer lifeboat crew didn't hesitate to respond to the callout, in what turned out to be a long day for them in difficult conditions. Thankfully everyone came home safe and well.’

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