#Rescue116 - Divers are working at the Rescue 116 wreck site to recover the body of one of three crewmen missing since the Irish Coast Guard helicopter went down off the North Mayo coast 11 days ago, as The Irish Times reports.
Reports elsewhere have identified the body but Belmullet Garda Station said it was not possible at this time to confirm whether it was the remains of Mark Duffy, Ciaran Smith or Paul Ormsby.
Their cremate, Capt Dara Fitzpatrick, was buried last week after she died within hours of her recovery from the water following the tragic incident at Black Rock, west of the Mullet Peninsula.
The flight recorder is now in the custody of the Air Accident Investigation Unit (AAIU) and will be taken under escort to Baldonnel Aerodrome, where it will be onward transported to the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) in the UK tomorrow (Saturday 25 March) for download.
The operation comes 11 days after the tragic incident that took the life of Capt Dara Fitzpatrick, while her three Irish Coast Guard crewmates — Mark Duffy, Paul Ormsby and Ciarán Smith — remain missing.
An eighth person was subsequently recovered from the water and airlifted to Sligo Hospital by the Irish Coast Guard helicopter Rescue 118, which was diverted from the ongoing search for the missing crew of Rescue 116.
Independent.ie reports that the latter diver was in serious condition, and that a second diver was later hospitalised.
The multifunctional vessel, built to operate in difficult sea conditions, is being stocked with additional equipment ahead of a major search of the crash site off Blacksod in Co Mayo scheduled for tomorrow (Sunday 19 March) with the forecast of improved weather conditions.
TheJournal.ie reports that what’s believed to be wreckage from the Sikorsky S92 helicopter has been found on the island of Black Rock, west of Blacksod, but there are no signs of a crash having occurred at that site.
Three crew – chief pilot Mark Duffy and winch men Paul Ormsby and Ciarán Smith — remain missing after the incident in the early hours of Tuesday (14 March) as the Dublin-based Irish Coast Guard helicopter provided top cover for a medevac.
Meanwhile, it emerged on Thursday (16 March) that Rescue 116 was tasked to the scene on Tuesday after the Irish Air Corps was unable to provide assistance due to reduced capacity, according to The Irish Times.
#Rescue116 - One person has been taken from the scene in the search for an Irish Coast Guard helicopter and crew that went missing off Mayo in the early hours of this morning, according to the Galway Advertiser.
Update 2.55pm: The Irish Times confirms that the casualty recovered this morning, named as Captain Dara Fitzpatrick, was pronounced dead in hospital. Capt Fitzpatrick was one of the Irish Coast Guard's most senior helicopter pilots, and in 2013 flew Ireland's first missions with an all-female flight crew.
As previously reported on Afloat.ie, a major search operation was launched some six miles west of Blacksod at 1am this morning (Tuesday 14 March) after contact was lost with the Dublin-based Rescue 116 as it provided top cover during a rescue mission.
Coastguard officials conformed that four crew were on board the Sikorsky S92 long-range SAR aircraft at the time.
The individual recovered from the scene within the last 30 minutes is reportedly in critical condition.
#WaterSafety - The Irish Coast Guard has once again warned the public to stay back and say safe in coastal areas during severe weather after video emerged of a young child swept off their feet by a surprise wave.
Independet.ie has video of the recent incident in Portstewart on the North Coast, where a man and the child are filmed walking along the promenade as large waves lap over the edge at high tide.
According to The Irish Times, the Irish fleet of Sikorsky S92s was grounded in rotation for tail rotor inspections after an incident with a helicopter on a North Sea rig in late December.
Many people will be engaging in outdoor activities along the coastline, be it on exposed coasts, cliffs, piers, harbour walls, beaches, promenades or other coastal areas.
And with the risk of stormy weather returning for Christmas Day tomorrow, after yesterday’s blustery conditions from Storm Barbara, the coastguard asks that anyone planning activities on or near the water to first check that it is safe to do so, and to be mindful of the risks and life threatening dangers that can arise without warning.
Christmas Day swims are a popular pursuit, and the coastguard is urging the public to only participate in organised swims where medical support and lifeguards are available.
Lone swimming should be avoided and all swimmers should be cognisant that time in the water should be kept to a minimum as even the most experienced of swimmers can easily succumb to cramp or cold water shock.
A general improvement in weather conditions is forecast from St Stephen’s Day — but spring tides that generate higher tides will peak in the latter part of the week and pose an additional risk.
The three Coast Guard Rescue Co-ordination Centres based in Malin, Valentia and Dublin, along with the coastguard helicopter service and volunteer units, will remain operational over the holiday period.
The Irish Coast Guard wishes to remind the public that if you see anybody in danger at sea, on the coast or on cliffs, call 112 and ask for the coastguard.
Anyone finding themselves involved in an emergency can use phone apps to help give their location to rescue personnel, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.
A four-person delegation representing some 1,000 volunteers with the Irish Coast Guard pleaded their case with front bench TDs at Leinster House last week for the search and rescue side of the service to be safeguarded along the lines of the Garda, ambulance and fire services.
Among their complaints, the volunteers cite political manoeuvring at the expense of the service, along with “decisions being made by managers” in the Department of Transport “who have no direct involvement with the emergency services”.
In other coastguard news, volunteers from the Doolin unit were involved in the recovery of the body of a woman following a three-day search off the Cliffs of Moher. The Irish Examiner has more on the story HERE.
Following a demonstration by Civil Defence Ireland to West Cork emergency services last week, the Irish Coast Guard and others are now exploring how to utilise drone technology in their SAR efforts.
“It’s an ideal resource in areas like West Cork where you have a lot of upland terrain and rocky headlands as well as huge stretches of coastline,” said civil defence officer Niall Twomey.
“The drone can get into these places much faster than searchers on the ground and do it safely too so it can be a huge assistance.”
Twomey is part of a new project developing drone-based search teams across Ireland, two of which are based in Cork at Skibbereen and Kinsale, utilising the heavy-duty Typhoon H remote-piloted aircraft.
The Southern Star has more on the story HERE.