LOUGH Derg RNLI and Killaloe Coast Guard have been commended for their quick action in rescuing 40 people whose vessel ran aground on Lough Derg at the weekend.
On Saturday afternoon Valentia Coast Guard requested Lough Derg RNLI lifeboat to assist the people on a 40ft passenger vessel aground on a rocky shoal off Bonaveen Point on the County Galway shore, at the north-western end of Lough Derg.
At 1.20pm Lough Derg RNLI lifeboat Jean Spier launched with helm Eleanor Hooker and crew Doireann Kennedy and Oisín Higgins on board. Given the large number of people on board the casualty vessel, Valentia Coast Guard also requested Killaloe Coast Guard to launch.
The casualty vessel was spotted aground off Bonaveen Point at 1.35pm. Using local knowledge and electronic navigation tools on board the lifeboat, the RNLI volunteers navigated around two shallow shoals to make a safe approach to the stern of the casualty vessel.
Those on the casualty vessel informed the lifeboat crew they were not taking on any water and that there was a significant hazard on their starboard side.
The RNLI volunteers established that all on board were safe and unharmed and wearing their lifejackets and by then the Killaloe Coast Guard were also on scene.
Given the number of casualties on board, the location and the weather conditions on the lake, the RNLI lifeboat helm made the decision to take the vessel off the shoal.
Killaoe Coast Guard took some of the passengers to lighten the stranded vessel.
Members of the Killaloe Coast Guard mobile unit had travelled by road and would meet the casualties to drive them to their cars. Six passengers in all were transferred across to the Killaloe Coast Guard.
In the meantime, an RNLI volunteer boarded the casualty vessel to prepare the vessel for tow while the crew ensured it was clear of the hazard on the starboard side.
With the casualty vessel off the rocky shoal, the lifeboat advised the casualty vessel to centre its rudder and make any adjustments necessary to follow directly behind the lifeboat; the casualty vessel had no apparent damage to its engine or props and was able to make way under its own power. Once in safe water the lifeboat brought the casualty vessel alongside to release lines.
The Killaloe Coast Guard returned to the scene and with the Lough Derg RNLI lifeboat accompanied the casualty vessel to the safety of Castle Harbour at Portumna. At 3pm the casualty vessel was safely tied alongside in Castle Harbour. The lifeboat departed the scene and was back at Station at 3.35pm.
Peter Kennedy, Deputy Launching Authority at Lough Derg RNLI commended both, “Lough Derg RNLI and Killaloe Coast Guard for their swift response and excellent teamwork in effecting a challenging rescue in testing conditions.”