Video: RNLI Lifeboats Keep Disabled Freighter Off the Rocks in a Storm

Video courtesy RNLI

Published Oct 23, 2020 3:46 PM by The Maritime Executive

On Tuesday, three Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) lifeboats responded to a small freighter that had lost power off Hook Head in Wexford, Ireland. In rough conditions and strong winds, the vessel was in danger of drifting onto the rocks. 

The cargo vessel Lily B and her crew of nine were under way with a load of coal when she lost power, and the ship drifted to within half a nautical mile of the rocky coastline. At about 1500 hours, the Irish Coast Guard called for assistance from the RNLI lifeboats in Dunmore East, Kilmore Quay and Rosslare. A Coast Guard helicopter was dispatched to provide overwatch and evacuation if needed.

Despite Force Eight wind conditions and waves of up to 20 feet in height, the Dunmore East and Kilmore Quay lifeboats established tow lines onto the drifting vessel, which was by then very close to the rocks. The two lifeboats maintained the tow and kept the cargo ship away from shore while a tug was en route from Waterford. The Rosslare lifeboat stood by for backup.

At about 1740 hours, a commercial tugboat arrived and the lifeboats passed over the towline. They escorted the tow into the harbor at Waterford in the early hours of Wednesday morning, then stood down. 

"The 4,000-tonne vessel came within a half a mile of the shore and Dunmore East and Kilmore Quay lifeboat crews had an incredibly difficult job in keeping it away from the rocks," said Rosslare RNLI manager David Maloney. "The seas were huge, and it would not have been pleasant for anyone out there in those conditions. The lifeboat crews were out for over twelve hours in a callout that involved serious skill and concentration and I am tremendously proud of all three lifeboat crews involved. Thankfully we did not have a tragedy today."