Permanent replacement lifeboat for Portrush
The RNLI will provide a permanent replacement Severn class lifeboat for Portrush following the decision not to repair the Katie Hannan, which was severely damaged during a rescue off Rathlin Island last January. The damage sustained to the hull of the Katie Hannan during the atrocious weather, which followed the grounding and prevented recovery for two weeks, has resulted in her being found to be beyond economic repair.
A Severn class lifeboat from the RNLI's relief fleet will continue to ensure that the ring of lifeboat cover around the Irish coast remains unbroken until a permanent replacement Severn class lifeboat is allocated to Portrush later this year. The future of the Katie Hannan is still under consideration and it is possible that she may be used in some way for training and education.
The RNLI has also completed its inquiry into the events that led to the grounding of the lifeboat and concluded that no negligence was attributable to the lifeboat crew for their actions in rendering assistance at night, in difficult conditions, on a call out to a vessel in difficulty.
The grounding occurred during the preparation and manoeuvring associated with connecting a tow to the casualty vessel, the Catriona IV, which was in difficulty off the harbour on Rathlin Island. When the grounding occurred the lifeboat was manoeuvring close inshore, the decision having been taken to provide close cover to the casualty.
Colin Williams, RNLI Divisional Inspector Ireland, says: 'Grounding is a constant threat when lifeboats operate close to the shore in shallow water. All our lifeboats are designed to withstand grounding but not even the strongest lifeboat could survive being repeatedly driven against rocks by rough seas and storm force winds over a period of several days.
'This incident is a timely reminder of the unpredictability of the sea and the pressure that our volunteers may face at any time when they launch to help those in danger on the sea. Lifeboat operations are often difficult and sometimes dangerous. We train our volunteer crews to make life-saving decisions in difficult circumstances and this incident has provided important lessons for all our lifeboat crews.
'The RNLI thanks everyone at Portrush lifeboat station, Larne lifeboat station, members of the Ballycastle and Rathlin Island communities and all those who assisted with the rescue operation and subsequent recovery.'