Menu
Allianz and Afloat - Supporting Irish Boating

Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

Search & Recovery: The Challenging Role of the Navy Diver (PODCAST)

28th January 2021
Sub-Lieut Tahlia Britton from Rossnowlagh, Co Donegal, Sub-Lieut Tahlia Britton from Rossnowlagh, Co Donegal, Credit: Davy Jones/Óglaigh na hÉireann

“We’ll always give our best, treat every incident as if it is one of our own.... and try our utmost to get a missing family member back to their loved one.....”

The words of Lieut Stephen Stack, head of the Naval Service diving unit, speaking about what keeps his colleague “motivated and driven to succeed”.

Last year, Sub-Lieut Tahlia Britton from Rossnowlagh, Co Donegal, became the first female to qualify for the Naval Service diving unit. A former champion surfer, she studied podiatry at NUI Galway but always wanted to join the military.

Sub-Lieut Tahlia Britton enters the water from off a Navy RIB Sub-Lieut Tahlia Britton enters the water from off a Navy RIB Photo: Davy Jones/Óglaigh na hÉireann

She has described the mental and physical challenges of being a Navy diver in an interview recorded for RTÉ Seascapes, the full version of which is on a Wavelengths podcast this week (below).

Search and recovery is just one aspect of the work of Navy divers, which is, as Stack says “not glamorous...”

Navy divers in training at Haulbowline Photo: Davy Jones/Óglaigh na hÉireannNavy divers in training at Haulbowline Photo: Davy Jones/Óglaigh na hÉireann

One of the team’s recent challenging operations was the three-week-long search after the 12-metre steel-hulled boat, Alize, fishing out of Duncannon, Co Wexford, went down some 6½ miles off Hook Head, Co Wexford just over a year ago on January 4th, 2020.

A briefing before a diveA briefing for a dive team at Haulbowline Naval base Photo: Davy Jones/Óglaigh na hÉireann

Joe Sinnott (65) from Kilmore Quay was recovered off Duncannon by the Irish Coast Guard Waterford-based Rescue 117 helicopter.

The body of skipper Willie Whelan (41), recently married and from Fethard-on-Sea, was located by the Hook Sub Aqua Club, and it was taken from the wreck of the new vessel by the Naval Service diving team.

“It was in very deep water, it was very complex, the weather wasn’t great, “Lieut Stack said, describing it as technically the most challenging operation he had been involved in recently.

He has paid tribute to the Garda Water Unit and the voluntary search and recovery groups that the Navy divers also work with in their aid to civil power role.

You can hear a taste of the aptitude test which aspiring Navy divers have to undergo at the Naval Service base at Haulbowline, along with interviews with Stack and Britton – including what she might sing underwater - below

Lorna Siggins

About The Author

Lorna Siggins

Email The Author

Lorna Siggins is a print and radio reporter, and a former Irish Times western correspondent. She is the author of Everest Callling (1994) on the first Irish Everest expedition; Mayday! Mayday! (2004) on Irish helicopter search and rescue; and Once Upon a Time in the West: the Corrib gas controversy (2010).

We've got a favour to ask

More people are reading Afloat.ie than ever thanks to the power of the internet but we're in stormy seas because advertising revenues across the media are falling fast. Unlike many news sites, we haven’t put up a paywall because we want to keep our marine journalism open.

Afloat.ie is Ireland's only full–time marine journalism team and it takes time, money and hard work to produce our content.

So you can see why we need to ask for your help.

If everyone chipped in, we can enhance our coverage and our future would be more secure. You can help us through a small donation. Thank you.

Direct Donation to Afloat button

Afloat's Wavelengths Podcast with Lorna Siggins

Weekly dispatches from the Irish coast with journalist Lorna Siggins, talking to people in the maritime sphere. Topics range from marine science and research to renewable energy, fishing, aquaculture, archaeology, history, music and more...

Featured Sailing School

INSS sidebutton

Featured Clubs

dbsc mainbutton
Howth Yacht Club
Kinsale Yacht Club
National Yacht Club
Royal Cork Yacht Club
Royal Irish Yacht club
Royal Saint George Yacht Club

Featured Brokers

leinster sidebutton

Featured Associations

ICRA
isora sidebutton

Featured Webcams

Featured Events 2021

vdlr21 sidebutton

Featured Sailmakers

northsails sidebutton
uksails sidebutton
quantum sidebutton
watson sidebutton

Featured Chandleries

CHMarine Afloat logo
osm sidebutton
https://afloat.ie/resources/marine-industry-news/viking-marine

Featured Marinas

dlmarina sidebutton

Featured Blogs

W M Nixon - Sailing on Saturday
podcast sidebutton
mansfield sidebutton
BSB sidebutton
wavelengths sidebutton
 

Please show your support for Afloat by donating