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    SIX crew members from Newcastle RNLI have been recognised for their courage, determination and teamwork in bringing the crew of a racing rowing boat to safety after it capsized off Ardglass Harbour in June last year.

    Coxswain Gerry McConkey, mechanic Shane Rice and crew members Lochlainn Leneghan, Declan McClelland, Karl Brannigan and Declan Barry have all received framed RNLI Chief Executive commendations for their efforts that saw them launch their all-weather lifeboat and go to sea for 10 hours in weather conditions that deteriorated to gale-force 9 winds and rough seas.

    The volunteer crew were requested to launch the Leonard Kent, at 7.15am on 26 June 2022 to go to the aid of the crew of a racing rowing boat that capsized 12 nautical miles east of Ardglass Harbour. Weather conditions at the time were poor, with a Force 7 southerly wind and rough seas. Conditions then deteriorated following the launch, with weather increasing to a force 9 southerly wind and high seas.  On arrival at the scene at 9.24am, the volunteer crew assessed the situation and decided a tow was necessary to bring the vessel’s crew to safety. Such were the conditions at sea that it took three attempts before a tow was successfully established.

    In his commendation, RNLI Chief Executive Mark Dowie stated: ‘With courage, determination, and excellent teamwork, the casualty vessel was located. ‘A tow was established, and the vessel was brought to the safety of Ardglass Harbour during a service that lasted almost 10 hours.’  Speaking of the commendations, Darren Byers, RNLI Area Lifesaving Manager, said: “This is a fitting recognition of the crew’s efforts during a challenging call-out, that saw them spend almost 10 gruelling hours at sea in difficult weather conditions. “Our volunteers are highly skilled and train for all eventualities and that was certainly put to the test during this service – I congratulate the crew on a richly deserved commendation.”

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