Exclusive: HM Coastguard declares third Lough Neagh Rescue station ‘operationally ready’

Lough Neagh Rescue
Lough Neagh Rescue

Lough Neagh Rescue is celebrating the news that their third and newest station has been declared fully operational, following a four-hour competency exercise carried out by HM Coastguard.

The 12-person crew, which will operate from Antrim Bay, was tested to the full on Saturday [Jan 11] amid gale force conditions that a spokesman said would have tried even the most experienced.

Following the exercise, which involved them rescuing casualties, providing medical help and searching for simulated missing persons, the Coastguard said: “They proved they were extremely well trained and carried out everything operationally to a very high standard - They ticked all the boxes and more.”

A spokesperson for Lough Neagh Rescue, who took part in the exercise, added: “Antrim have been working tirelessly to ensure they reached the competency level required by both Lough Neagh Rescue and its partner, and oversight body, HM Coastguard.

“The exercise took place on January 11 in fairly substantial gale force westerly winds, which meant the whole of Lough Neagh was battering against them.

“It was tough going, because [they faced] gusts reaching force five to seven, which can be quite testing sea-going conditions.

“Our new boat, the Martin Kidd, working in tandem with the other two boats was not only handled really well but the boat itself was 100% even in those extreme conditions. They were tested to the full and passed with flying colours.”

LNR’s senior training manager added: “Once the pager system is in place, all three boats will be called out to incidents, although Antrim will be consigned to Antrim Bay.”