A call for help of the highest distress level was radioed on VHF channel 16 on the morning of Sunday 4 July. Both RNLI Campbeltown lifeboats were launched by the volunteer crews along with RNLI Red Bay's B class lifeboat, Campbeltown HM Coastguard rescue team and the Rescue 199 helicopter.
On Monday 4 July, RNLI Campbeltown's Severn class lifeboat, Ernest
and Mary Shaw, was launched at 12.32am to the report of a mayday, the highest level of a distress call.
The mayday was made by a rowing vessel on the west side of the Kintyre Peninsula, where the sea state was considered to be a moderate breeze, which is around 11 to 16 knots wind force and around 1.25m to 2.5m wave height. The wind was coming from the west.
HM Coastguard Campbeltown rescue team were also searching on shore so they could confirm the location of the rowing vessel and report any sightings.
As the all-weather lifeboat made it’s way out of Campbeltown Loch and started to head for the approximate casualty location, further information from HM Coastguard confirmed an exact position.
It was at this point the in-shore D class lifeboat Alastair Greenlees was considered to be launched as it would be launched from Machrihanish, closer to the casualty vessel.
The pager alerted crew at 12.58am to launch the D class. On arrival at Machrihanish the crew were faced with the strong winds and small but strong waves crashing onto the beach.
Once under way the crew made contact with HM Coastguard Belfast to receive an exact casualty location and were told to standby for further information and instructions.
At approximately 02.00am Campbeltown’s all-weather lifeboat had arrived on scene. RNLI Red Bay’s B class
Geoffrey Charles and it’s volunteer lifeboat crew arrived on scene very shortly after.
The D class was maintaining its position and awaiting further information. Shortly after RNLI’s
Ernest and Mary Shaw arrived the Rescue 199 helicopter had began winching operations to rescue the five casualties from their rowing vessel.
The Rescue 199 helicopter flew the casualties to Campbeltown Hospital for a check up. It was reported that all were safe and well. As the rowers were rescued and taken to hospital, the decision was made to leave the vessel to make its way onto the shore as there was no danger to marine traffic.
Both RNLI Red Bay and RNLI Campbeltown departed the scene and headed back to make their lifeboats ready for service.
Campbeltown’s D class returned back to the station at 02.25 am and the volunteers cleaned the boat and made it ready for service with the all-weather lifeboat returning at 03.40 am.
Lifeboat Operations Manager George Bradley said ‘We are very pleased with the outcome of this mayday distress call.
'All five lives were saved and it could have been a very different outcome if the rowers had not made the call when they did.
'Everyone who uses the water whether it’s for work or pleasure should carry a means of calling for help.
'It could be a VHF or a mobile phone in a waterproof pouch. Make sure it has plenty of battery as this could save you and others lives one day.’
Notes to editors
RNLI media contacts
Natasha Bennett, RNLI Regional Media Officer for Scotland, 07826 900639, [email protected]
Martin Macnamara, RNLI Regional Media Manager for Scotland, 07920 365929, [email protected]
RNLI Press Office, 01202 336789
For more information on the RNLI please visit rnli.org. News releases and other media resources, including RSS feeds, downloadable photos and video, are available at the RNLI News Centre rnli.org/news-and-media.
Key facts about the RNLI
The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates over 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824 its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,200 lives.
Key facts about the RNLI
The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.
Learn more about the RNLI
For more information please visit the RNLI website or Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. News releases, videos and photos are available on the News Centre.
Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries
Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 (UK) or 1800 991802 (Ireland) or by email.