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Displaying items by tag: Coastguard

Yesterday afternoon (11th April) Portaferry Coastguard Rescue Team had what turned out to be an Accident Prevention call out.

At Cloughey on the east coast of the Ards Peninsula in Co Down, a dog had entered the water to chase seagulls, (maybe bored with Lockdown?) but ended up quite a distance from the shore.

The owner was thinking of going into the water to rescue the dog, but he did the correct thing and stayed out of the water. Instead, he dialled 999 to ask for help. When the Team arrived, the dog was swimming ashore back to its owner. After some doggie treats and a stern telling off, it was on its way home to dry off.

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Portaferry Coastguard Rescue Team was paged on Saturday along with Newcastle Coastguard after a report that seven people were stranded by the tide on Guns Island, off the southeastern County Down coast near Ballyhornan.

Two Coastguard Rescue officers in water rescue equipment made their way out to the island to reassure the four adults and two children, but the incoming tide made it impossible to walk ashore, so Portaferry Lifeboat was called, and all seven were taken to safety.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Coastguard and Lifeboat rescue teams have been extremely busy over the Easter Weekend and of course, answer distress calls without hesitation. But Belfast Coastguard Operations Centre has reported a hoax call.

Both Bangor and Portaferry Coastguard Rescue Teams were tasked to a vessel, possibly in distress near Ballywalter on the eastern Co. Down coast. Whilst they were proceeding to the scene, they received a call reporting a person in the water, and in serious difficulty in Killyleagh on the western side of Strangford Lough.

Both Coastguard Rescue Teams were diverted to the person in the water and Portaferry Lifeboat was also requested along with the Police Service. Belfast Coastguard said, "This was a hoax call. It tied up multiple Search and Rescue units, along with police, and someone who may have actually needed us had to wait. Please do not make hoax calls. Hoax calls cost lives".

Published in Belfast Lough
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The RNLI and the Irish Coast Guard are urging people who will be spending time on or near the water during the Easter break to take note of the relevant water safety advice for their activity and to raise the alarm if they see someone in trouble by dialling 999 or 112 and asking for the Coast Guard. The call comes as the Easter break falls early this year and recent call outs for the search and rescue resources have seen a noted increase in requests to assist walkers cut off by the tide and people getting into difficulty while engaging in open water swimming.

Both organisations emphasise the importance of adherence with Government guidelines on 5 km travel and other Covid related restrictions. With many people who live near the coast, exercising on or alongside the water, the Coast Guard and the RNLI are requesting the public to be cautious when engaging in any coastal or water-based activity. Despite some recent warm weather, sea temperatures remain at their coldest this time of year. Also, cliff top areas may have been subject to erosion or other local weather-related changes and care should be taken when walking there.

Kevin Rahill, RNLI Water Safety manager, said: ‘We are asking people to think about their own safety. Coastal areas and our inland waterways provide a great opportunity to enjoy fresh air and open space but it is important to remember that while air temperatures may be warming up in Spring and early Summer, water temperatures remain dangerously cold between 8-10°, increasing the risk of cold water shock. And, if you are out for a walk on the beach, make sure to check the tide times to avoid being cut off by a rising tide.’

Irish Coast Guard, Head of Operations Gerard O’Flynn added: ‘The past year has seen an increase in activities such as open water swimming, and incidents relating to use of inflatable toys which are unsuitable for open water. Please always be mindful of your personal safety and always ensure that you have a means of communication should you get into difficulty.’

Water safety advice from the Irish Coast Guard and RNLI:

  • When kayaking and paddleboarding, always carry a means of calling for help, such as a VHF radio or mobile phone in a waterproof pouch.
    Whenever going afloat, wear an appropriate buoyancy aid or lifejacket.
  • For open water swimmers and dippers, acclimatise slowly and always be visible
  • Check weather forecasts, tidal conditions, never swim alone and ensure that your activity is being monitored by a colleague onshore.
  • Take care if walking or running near cliffs – know your route and keep dogs on a lead
  • Carry a fully charged phone
  • If you get into trouble in the water, FLOAT - fight your instinct to thrash around, lean back, extend your arms and legs, and Float.
Published in Coastguard
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A European pilots’ organisation has expressed alarm at the delay in publishing the final report into the loss of four air crew in the Rescue 116 helicopter crash off the Mayo coast four years ago.

As The Times Ireland edition reports, European Cockpit Association (ECA) president Captain Otjan de Bruijn has also questioned why Ireland had adopted a “rare procedure” where an aviation accident investigation can be re-examined before publication.

An air accident investigation must be published to ensure key safety lessons can be learned “swiftly”, Capt de Bruijn said, and he has urged release of the report “without delay”.

Capt Dara Fitzpatrick, Capt Mark Duffy and winch team Paul Ormsby and Ciarán Smith died after their Irish Coast Guard Sikorsky S-92 helicopter crashed at Blackrock island off the north Mayo coast on March 14th, 2017.

The four Dublin-based helicopter crew were providing “top cover” communication for the medical evacuation of a crewman from a British-registered fishing vessel off the west coast.

The Air Accident Investigation Unit (AAIU) issued a preliminary report and a series of interim reports, and a final draft report was given to families and stakeholders in late 2019, with a 60-day period for submissions.

However, its publication was put on hold by a request in January 2020 by an unidentified stakeholder for a review, which was granted by Ryan’s predecessor, Shane Ross.

The ECA president said that the final report was due in January 2020, and it “is an extremely long delay for publishing a report”

Capt de Bruijn said that during these four years, “possible safety-critical flaws have remained unaddressed – something we are quite alarmed about”.

“Any deficiencies that have been identified in the accident investigation must be made public, out in the open so they can be fixed swiftly. In the interests of passenger safety, we urge the Irish AAIU to release the report without delay,” he said.

“We are not aware of any other similar cases across Europe of a re-examination of the technical work of an independent technically qualified organisation by a body with limited expertise in aviation accident investigations,” Capt de Bruijn said of the review board option.

“This rare procedure could be a slippery slope allowing for undue influence over the investigation process and its findings, and clearly has resulted in an unhelpful delay in the publication of the report,” he said.

“Let us not forget that the final report contains safety-critical recommendations that are valuable – and potentially life-saving – lessons for the aviation system in and beyond Ireland,” he said.

The Irish Airline Pilots Association (IALPA) has already questioned the decision to include a review in the Irish legislation, and said the review “does not comply with the standards and recommended practices laid down by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO)”.

The Department of Transport said, “the review board is independent in its work in accordance with the 2009 Regulations and the timeframe for the board to carry out the re-examination is a matter for the chairperson to determine”.

Read more in The Times here

Published in Coastguard
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The fishing vessel Ellie Adhamh, the seven-person crew of which were evacuated by Coast Guard Helicopters on Saturday evening, has sunk in approximately 80m of water over two miles North of the Bull Rock, at the entrance to Kenmare Bay.

Valentia Coast Guard who coordinated the operation monitored the vessels situation overnight as it drifted in a northerly direction.

A local Tug hired by the owners was on scene all morning evaluating options to tow the vessel to a place of safety.

A second local Tug was also proceeding to the scene but it was evident from early morning that the vessels condition was deteriorating.

Sinking fast - The bow of the fishing vessel Ellie Adhamh seconds before the trawler sank in approximately 80m of water over two miles North of the Bull Rock, at the entrance to Kenmare BayThe bow of the fishing vessel Ellie Adhamh seconds before the trawler sank in approximately 80m of water over two miles North of the Bull Rock, at the entrance to Kenmare Bay. See vid below

A Coast Guard spokesperson expressed relief that there was no loss of life and acknowledged the professionalism of all who had been involved in the operation, as Afloat reported previously including Naval Service ship LE George Bernard Shaw, Castletownbere RNLI, Coast Guard Helicopter crews, owners and their representatives.

Published in Navy

Coastguards across the UK are warning those planning to go anywhere near the coast or beaches over the Easter period to be on their guard. 

Conditions at sea or on coastal land can change very quickly and unexpectedly, making it unpredictable and dangerous.

The warning to be prepared is supported by a couple who found themselves cut off from safety when a cliff unexpectedly collapsed across the beach they were walking on.

People are being reminded to also check COVID guidance for the area they live in before making plans as well as taking care if they’re going to the coast or beaches for day trips.

For one couple from Dorset, a quiet afternoon walk turned into a nightmare when part of a cliff collapsed cutting them off from safety.

Their walk along the beach at Charmouth had started off well – the tide was out and the shingle beach was wide. 

But they have been retelling the moment when they had to call 999 and ask for the coastguard and warning how easy it is to be caught out. 

With a cliff fall blocking their way back to the car park and safety and their only other option – going through the sea – even more dangerous as they would have been swept away, they had only one decision they could make.

They said: “We didn’t want to make the situation worse than it already was by putting ourselves in further danger and therefore called 999 and requested assistance from the coastguard.”

The couple was winched to safety by search and rescue helicopter. They were told that another half an hour and the tide would have covered the beach where they had found themselves trapped.

They said: “Afterwards you question whether there is anything you could have done differently but we are not daft and we are not the kind of people to take unnecessary risks. This sort of thing could happen to anyone and is a stark reminder of why you always need to have your wits about you at the coast. 

“More than ever, we now always make sure our mobile phones are fully charged before we head out and that we are aware of tide times.”

Director of HM Coastguard Claire Hughes said: “Never, ever think it won’t happen to you. We’ve heard stories from so many people, some of whom know their coastlines and tide times well, who’ve been out for walks or who are strong swimmers and experts in their watersports who have found themselves suddenly needing help because something has changed.

“Regardless of how well you know the coast, or how experienced you are in your chosen sport, the sea can still catch you out, the cliffs can prove treacherous and even a momentary lapse of concentration can put you in difficulty. 

“We will always respond to those in need but all we ask is that you think twice about what you do and where you go.”

If you get into trouble at sea or on the coast call 999 and ask for the Coastguard and we will come to your aid. But coronavirus hasn’t gone away and we all need to follow the rules.

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Tributes have been paid to Irish Coast Guard winchman Philip Wrenn who has won a prestigious award for his role in rescuing two Italian brothers from the Atlantic off the Aran island of Inis Mór two years ago.

Wrenn, CHC Ireland winch team member of the Irish Coast Guard Rescue 115 crew based at Shannon, won the Billy Deacon search and rescue memorial trophy 2020.

He was presented with it for his bravery in rescuing brothers Giovanni and Ricardo Zanon in very challenging conditions in 2019.

The Zanon brothers were visiting Poll na bPéist or the “Worm Hole”, the naturally shaped sea pool cut out of limestone on the west of Inis Mór, when they fell some 20 metres into the Atlantic.

Rescue 115 was tasked to the scene, and Wrenn and winch operator Ciarán McHugh worked as a team to take the two men from the sea.

Wrenn was tending to the more injured of the two men when a series of waves almost washed all three into Poll na bPéist’s cauldron.

Wrenn and McHugh were interviewed about for the rescue for the Midas Productions Irish Coast Guard documentary by Darina Clancy for TG4 television’s Tabú series.

“We went off into a holding pattern....then we saw this set of waves coming offshore...from about a mile away,” McHugh recalled.

“It was like you left someone off the side of the road to wait for the bus, and then the bus comes and slaps them,” McHugh told Tabú.

The two Italians were treated at University Hospital, Galway. They were reunited with Wrenn and McHugh for the documentary, which was broadcast on TG4 in March, 2020.

The trophy conferred on Wrenn is named in memory of late Bristow Helicopters winchman Billy Deacon, who died during a Maritime and Coastguard Agency search and rescue (SAR) helicopter mission in 1997.

It is awarded to winchmen and/or winch operators working in the British and Irish search and rescue regions, and the RNLI lifeboat operations director chairs the award committee.

Rescue 118 winch team member Gary Robertson won the award in 2017 for his rescue of a fisherman who had become tangled in a rope off Arranmore island, Co Donegal in April, 2016.

The fisherman’s six-metre vessel had sunk and he was clinging to a lifebuoy, when the Sligo-based helicopter was scrambled by Malin Head Coast Guard on April 9th, 2016.

“I am accepting this award on behalf of the whole team on Rescue 115. As a team, we work together to execute a rescue and I am only one member of that team,” Wrenn said.

Minister of State for Transport Hildegarde Naughton said Wrenn had demonstrated “a level of professionalism and commitment that I have no doubt is a great source of pride not alone to his immediate family but to anybody who is involved with search and rescue”.

She said the award not only honoured him but the “extraordinary work of our Coast Guard”.

Irish Coast Guard acting director Eugene Clonan said that Wrenn’s “selfless act of bravery exemplifies the actions of all Coast Guard activities in this area along with the county council lifeguards and declared resources of the RNLI and Community Inshore Rescue Service. “

CHC General Operations Manager Ireland manager Robert Tatten said the award – a piece of bog oak sculpted by Brendan Collum entitled “Entwined” –was very appropriate.

It “reminds us that all our lives are entwined, even with strangers we may not have yet met,” Tatten said.

“Philip saved two people he had never met at Inis Mor without thought for his own safety, but his experience and the intense training he and all CHC staff go through enabled him to make that rescue safely,” Tatten added.

Published in Coastguard
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Portaferry Coastguard Rescue team was joined by the Bangor team for joint mud and water rescue training in Strangford Lough on Sunday, 28th February.

The Dorn at Ardkeen was the location for the mud training. The word Dorn, from the Gaelic word for narrow channel, refers to the channel which connects several sheltered bays to the Lough near Ardkeen on the eastern side of the Lough.

Cook Street Quay in Portaferry town was used for the water rescue training.

Mud rescue training in Strangford LoughMud rescue training in Strangford Lough

The Portaferry team said, "It is essential that we keep our skills up to the highest level possible, so when required to conduct a technical rescue, we provide a first-class service".

Published in Coastguard

Belfast Coastguard Rescue Team responded yesterday (8th February) to reports of a car which had left the road near Newtownards Sailing Club, just a few miles outside the town on the loughshore road to Portaferry There were three people inside.

A coastal rescue officer from Portaferry was one of the first on the scene and had started casualty care before the arrival of a Rapid Response Vehicle (RRV) Paramedic. No serious injuries were reported.

PSNI and Coastguard personnel from Bangor helped with traffic management as well as checking that the vehicle was not leaking any fluids that could pollute the area. The team was free to stand down as recovery was arranged for the vehicle by the Police Service.

As reported in afloat.ie on 14th January, another vehicle left the same road a few miles farther south.

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