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45-Year Career Coxswain Leaves Baltimore

One of the best-known RNLI Coxswains has retired. After 45 years’ service Kieran Cotter of Baltimore, West Cork, stood down on Wednesday last, December 30.

Socially distanced and by a fishing rod, Kieran Cotter hands over the lifeboat keys to Baltimore RNLI’s new Coxswain Aidan Bushe – photo RNLI-Micheal Cottrell

At age 17, Kieran first became interested in Baltimore Lifeboat and joined the crew on January 1, 1975. He was involved in the 1979 Fastnet Race rescue operation when Baltimore was the first lifeboat launched and spent the longest time at sea during the tragedy. Kieran was also involved in the rescue of Taoiseach Charles J. Haughey in 1985 after his yacht sank having hit the Mizen. After being 2nd Coxswain he took over as Coxswain in 1989 following the retirement of Christy Collins in 1989.

During his 45 years at the station he has received multiple awards for his roles in many rescues. In 1991 Kieran was awarded the Bronze Medal for gallantry and the Maud Smith award for the bravest act of life saving that year following the 26-hour rescue of the fishing vessel the Japonica and her 15 crew and the rescue of the yacht Atlantis Adventure and her five crew. Coxswain Cotter and his crew also received recognition from the Swiss Embassy in 2008 for the outstanding bravery and commitment shown during the rescue of Swiss nationals in hazardous conditions and from the United States Congress for the rescue of the crew of Rambler during the 2011 Fastnet Yacht Race.

He has seen many changes during his time at the station including the arrival of four different classes of all-weather lifeboats and the reconstruction of the lifeboat station and pen at Bull Point to accommodate the current Tamar Class all-weather lifeboat the Alan Massey and the Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat the Rita Daphne Smyth. In September 2019 Kieran accepted the 100th Anniversary Vellum on behalf of the crew, management and fundraising team at Baltimore station.

Second Coxswain Aidan Bushe has taken overs as Baltimore Coxswain.