A flotilla of leisure craft escorted the €3 million Tamar class vessel, the Alan Massey, on the final leg of her journey from RNLI headquarters in Poole, England into Baltimore Harbour in West Cork.
Onboard were coxswain Kieran Cotter, mechanic Cathal Cottrell, Jerry Smith, Ronald Carthy and Patrick Collins, along with RNLI training divisional inspector Owen Medland and deputy divisional engineer Michael Carmody. Hundreds of people at the pier cheered as the lifeboat tied up.
“She’s a lifeboat for the 21st century,” a delighted Mr Cotter said.
But while her arrival is a cause for great celebration, he said the crews’ thoughts were with the victims of the recent Tit Bonhomme trawler tragedy.
“The Hilda Jarrett has served us well for over 20 years but as a coxswain you look forward to receiving the newest lifeboat model with all the latest developments and technology onboard.
“We will spend the next month or so training all the volunteer lifeboat crew on her before we say goodbye to our Tyne class lifeboat.
“We have so many memories onboard that old lifeboat — one of the highlights being the Rambler rescue last August.
“However, along with the successful rescues, there have also been tragedies and most recently we witnessed this with the search for the missing crewmen from the Tit Bonhomme in Glandore Harbour. Our thoughts are with their families today.”
The new lifeboat will replace the 14-metre Hilda Jarrett, which has been in service since 1988. The new vessel is just the second Tamar class lifeboat based in Ireland — the other based at Kilmore Quay, Co Wexford.
Since her first call-out in May 1988, the Hilda Jarrett has launched 356 times and rescued 346 people.
The Baltimore crew made headlines around the world last year when they were involved in the rescue of over a dozen sailors from the stricken Rambler 100 super-yacht, which capsized during the Fastnet race.
The vessel was involved in the retrieval of dozens of bales of cocaine from the water off Dunlough Bay in July 2007 when a botched international smuggling operation resulted in a record-breaking cocaine haul.
The vessel was also rescued Charlie Haughey and his crew when his yacht sank off Mizen Head in 1985.
The new Alan Massey has been primarily funded from the legacy of Dorothy May Massey, from Watford in Hertfordshire, who died in December 2003. She bequeathed her entire residuary estate to the RNLI on condition it be used to buy a lifeboat named in memory of her brother who had an interest in sailing.
* The new six-crew Tamar class lifeboat is 16.3 metres long and has room for 44 survivors, but can carry over 100 people.
* Fully water-tight and self-righting, she is powered by two Caterpillar C18 marine diesel engines, each of which generates 1,000 horse power — more than a Formula 1 racing car.
* They give her a top speed of 25 knots, almost double that of the Tyne class, a range of 250 nautical miles, and a towing capability of up to seven tonnes.
* She is equipped with a sophisticated array of search, navigational and communication equipment, and a special computer system which allows the crew to control the ship’s functions from their seats.
* She also carries a Y boat (an inflatable daughter boat), which is housed under the aft deck and deployed from a hinged door in the transom.