Sligo Bay RNLI Station launched a new lifeboat this week.
The Atlantic 85 class lifeboat arrived at the Rosses Point lifeboat station and had its maiden voyage for testing on Tuesday.
The Atlantic 85 replaces Elsinore, which has been used to save lives at sea on Sligo Bay since 2002.
Crew for the RNLI began a week of familiarisation training on Tuesday afternoon with their first exercise on the new vessel, christened “Sheila and Dennis Tongue” because it was funded through a legacy from the late Dennis Tongue, of Birmingham in England.
The lifeboat also bears the name of his late wife Sheila. Dennis died at the age of 84 in February 2014 in his home which overlooked the Exe estuary near Exmouth, Devon where he had lived for 25 years following his retirement. He was predeceased by Sheila who died in 2010.
Speaking following the arrival of the new lifeboat, Willie Murphy, the Sligo Bay RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager praised the late Dennis Tongue.
“We are extremely grateful to Mr Tongue for his generous legacy donation which has funded our new lifeboat. Today’s excitement is naturally tinged with a sense of nostalgia as we bid a fond farewell to Elsinore who provided us with 13 great years of service. Elsinore came to us as a result of local fundraising and carried the name of WB Yeats uncle’s house which is located beside the lifeboat station and where Yeats stayed as a young boy.
“Elsinore’s time here in Sligo saved lives and brought many more people safely to shore and we hope the donor family will be just as proud as we are, of her many achievements. We are looking forward to being the custodians of this new lifeboat which will allow our volunteers to go on to rescue and save many more lives in the years to come,” he said.
The Sheila and Dennis Tongue will be officially named at a special naming ceremony and service of dedication at Sligo Bay lifeboat station next year.
In its 13 years in Sligo, Elsinore launched 189 times, with its volunteer crew members rescuing 155 people, eight of whom were lives saved.
The Atlantic 85 design allows room for four crew members and more kit than the Atlantic 75 Elsinore lifeboat, which only had room for three crew members.
Powered by two 115 horse power engines, the Atlantic 85 has a stronger hull and greater top speed of 35 knots. The added radar allows the crew to operate more effectively in poor visibility and there is also VHF direction-finding equipment.
The vessel also has a manually operated self-righting mechanism which combined with inversion-proofed engines keeps the lifeboat operational even after capsize. The lifeboat can also be beached in an emergency without causing damage to its engines or steering gear.