The seamanship and outstanding team work of seven members of the Islay lifeboat crew is to be honoured by the RNLI. David MacLellan, who has been the coxswain of the Severn class 'Helmut Schroder of Dunlossit 11' since October 2006, is to receive the 'Thanks of the Institution on Vellum' for his actions during the 18 hour rescue of the Irish registered fishing boat 'Niamh Aine' after she started to take in water in treacherous seas and testing weather conditions 14 miles south west of the Skerryvore Lighthouse on the evening of January 4 of this year. The Barra lifeboat and a Rescue 177 Royal Navy Sea King helicopter were also tasked to the scene but owing to the prevailing weather, along with breaking seas and 6 metre swells, the helicopter was unable to transfer a pump onto the stricken vessel or airlift her crew. An attempt by Coxswain MacLellan to transfer the lifeboat's portable salvage pump onto the vessel proved successful - no mean feat in gale force 9 conditions - and once he had established that the 'Niamh Aine' was in no further danger he made the decision to tow her and her crew to safety. Owing to the ferocity of the weather and seas, the towline parted from the fishing vessel but was reconnected by the island lifeboat crew and the 'Niamh Aine' eventually made safe haven at Caolila. Continue reading..... For their part in the mammoth rescue operation, the other 6 crew members involved are also to be honoured by the RNLI. Receiving their 'Vellum Service Certificates' are mechanic David MacArthur, navigator Richard Cameron, senior deckhand Rondy Fletcher and crew members Cara MacEachern, Raymond Fletcher and Billy Cummings. The awards will be presented at the RNLl's Scottish Annual Meeting in the Perth Concert Hall on June 12.'The 'Thanks of the Institution Vellum' is the 4th highest RNLI award. Only 12 Vellums were presented to lifeboat crew members across the UK and republic of Ireland for acts of gallantry or good seamanship during 2007. Well done the Islay lifeboat crew. We are justly proud of you!
This story was published with kind permission of the Ileach newspaper.