Menu
Allianz and Afloat - Supporting Irish Boating

Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

Displaying items by tag: Coast Guard

“They were our friends, our colleagues...it was just hard to comprehend that we were trying to rescue the rescuers themselves...”

These are some of the comments made by members of a Mayo community, recorded by filmmaker Fergus Sweeney, for a documentary he has made in the aftermath of the crash of Irish Coast Guard helicopter Rescue 116.

Sweeney, nephew of Blacksod lighthouse keeper Vincent Sweeney, found himself at the heart of the initial response when the Sikorsky S-92 was reported missing in the early hours of March 14th, 2017.

All four crew, Capt Dara Fitzpatrick, Capt Mark Duffy and winch team Ciaran Smith and Paul Ormsby, died after the helicopter clipped Blackrock island while en route into Blacksod to refuel.

“Meitheal - The Story of a Search” is an independent film by cameraman and filmmaker Fergus Sweeney. The documentary tells the story of how the small rural community of Erris on the Irish Westcoast found themselves at the heart of a 42 day search for the crew of Irish Coastguard helicopter Rescue 116.“Meitheal - The Story of a Search” is an independent film by cameraman and filmmaker Fergus Sweeney. The documentary tells the story of how the small rural community of Erris on the Irish Westcoast found themselves at the heart of a 42 day search for the crew of Irish Coastguard helicopter Rescue 116.

A search that would lead the community on a journey of grief, emotion and Inspiration.

The bodies of Capt Fitzpatrick and Capt Duffy were recovered, but the winch crew are still missing.

In the documentary, community members say their search for the two men continues.

Sweeney records the impact of the crash on the locality, and interviews local Coast Guard members, including Michael Hurst and those who provided daily sustenance during the 40-day effort in the community hall at Eachléim.

The helicopter had been tasked to provide top cover for the Sligo-based Rescue 118 helicopter in a medical evacuation in the Atlantic.

The "probable cause" of the crash was identified by the Air Accident Investigation Unit as a combination of the helicopter's altitude, poor weather and the crew being unaware of a 282ft obstacle on the flight path of a pre-programmed route they were using.

A further 12 contributory causes were identified by the AAIU in the 350-page report.

They included "serious and important" weaknesses with how CHC Ireland managed route testing and mitigation; "confusion” at State level on responsibility for oversight of search and rescue operations; the positioning of a route waypoint almost "coincident" with Blackrock Island; and "crew members' likely hours of wakefulness at the time of the accident".

Meitheal: The Story of a Search is due to be broadcast on RTÉ 1 television on Tuesday, August 16th, at 10.30 pm.

Meitheal: The Story of a Search is due to be broadcast on RTÉ 1 television on Tuesday, August 16th, at 10.30 pm.

Published in Maritime TV
Tagged under

A Coast Guard radio officer has defended his decision to request a medical evacuation for an injured fisherman off the west coast on the night that the Irish Coast Guard Rescue 116 helicopter crashed with the loss of four lives.

All four crew- Capt Dara Fitzpatrick, Capt Mark Duffy, winch crew Paul Ormsby and Ciarán Smith – died when their Sikorsky S-92 helicopter crashed at Blackrock island in the early hours of March 14th, 2017.

The Dublin-based helicopter had been asked to provide “top cover” or communications for the Sligo-based Rescue 118 helicopter which was tasked to airlift a fisherman with an injured thumb from a vessel 140 km off the Mayo coast.

At a resumed inquest in Belmullet, Co Mayo, coroner Dr Eleanor Fitzgerald was told by Malin Head Coast Guard radio office Ian Scott that the casualty was bleeding out, in severe pain and had a section of his thumb amputated.

As RTÉ News reports, Mr Scott outlined how he had tried to secure top cover by the Air Corps and that he also "tried to get a Nimrod from the UK" but this was not available.

Rescue 116 was then asked to provide top cover and flew from Dublin. It was approaching Blacksod to refuel when it crashed at Blackrock island, west of Blacksod.

Mr Scott told the inquest that a doctor he had consulted did not object to his decision to take the injured crewman ashore.

He said he used his judgement, accrued over 42 years, and said “in my opinion the man needed off the vessel".

Mr Scott told the inquest he would make the same decision today.

Garda Supt Gary Walsh read a deposition from the captain of the Kings Cross fishing vessel, William Buchan, describing how crewman John James Strachan sustained a severed thumb when he was hauling in nets on the night of March 13th, when the vessel was 140 nautical miles west of Eagle Island.

Mr Buchan recalled hauling at about 9.15 pm on March 13th, 2017 after five or six hours on blue whiting. Mr Strachan’s hand got caught, and Mr Buchan managed to get his hand out of his glove but half of his thumb had been crushed and was inside the glove. He said they put the thumb top in the ship’s freezer.

Cork University emergency registrar Dr Mai Nguyen, who was consulted about the injury on the night of the call-out, told the inquest she felt the decision to task had been made before she was called. She described the injury as “minor”, and said she would not have sent the Irish Cost Guard as there was no hope of re-attaching the severed thumb and they were far from the coast. 

A recording of calls between the Kings Cross vessel, Malin Coast Guard and Dr Nguyen confirmed this at the inquest.

After Dr Nguyen advised skipper, William Buchan on how to handle the casualty, she asked the radio officer if a “medevac” was being carried out and he said it was.

The inquest also heard that in the minutes before the Rescue 116 helicopter was due to land at Blacksod lighthouse helipad to refuel, visibility "dropped fast".

Lightkeeper Vincent Sweeney described how in the minutes before Rescue 116 was due to land to refuel, visibility "dropped fast", to the point that "you'd hardly see your arm in front of you".

The bodies of Captain Dara Fitzpatrick and Captain Mark Duffy were recovered after the crash, but winch operator Paul Ormsby and winchman Ciarán Smith are still missing in spite of extensive searches.

The inquest was formally opened in April 2018 but was adjourned - after a brief sitting and issue of death certificates - to allow for completion of the Air Accident Investigation Unit report and Garda investigations.

The Garda investigation was completed in April 2019 and a file was sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions, but no prosecutions were recommended.

There were 42 recommendations in the 350-page Air Accident Investigation Unit (AAIU) report - 19 applying to the air crew’s employer, CHC Ireland, which holds the Irish Coast Guard contract for four helicopter search and rescue bases.

The AAIU report found the “probable” cause of the crash was a combination of poor weather, the helicopter’s altitude and the crew being unaware of a 282 ft obstacle – as in Blackrock island – on a pre-programmed route guide to Blacksod.

Read the RTÉ News report here

Published in Coastguard
Tagged under

The Irish Coast Guard has said that a fixed-wing aircraft assisting in the search for a solo sailor participating in the OSAR transatlantic race last weekend was despatched by the British authorities.

It was responding to queries about whether the Air Corps had been considered for top cover in the multi-agency rescue, which involved a 14-hour-long mission for the RNLI Achill lifeboat as Afloat reported here.

The Defence Forces press office has confirmed that no request was received for the Air Corps to assist in the operation, which began on Saturday morning last when MRCC Dublin received a request to assist in locating the yacht, Cariberia.

The Air Corps had a fixed-wing aircraft available, and would have been able to respond if requested, the Defence Forces press office said.

The yacht with one sailor on board was competing in the OSTAR race from Plymouth in Britain to Newport Rhode in north America.

In a statement on behalf of the Irish Coast Guard, the Department of Transport said that the vessel’s last known position was approximately 175 nautical miles northwest of Downpatrick Head in Co Antrim.

“Shortly thereafter the vessel indicated an intention to return to the UK,” the statement said.

“Subsequently all contact was lost with the vessel. MRCC Dublin requested a communication search [should] be initiated by MRSC Malin Head as it was suspected the vessel could be off the northwest coast of Ireland,” it said.

“MRSC Malin Head commenced the communication search on medium frequency 2182khz, VHF Ch16, Navtex and by trying to contact the vessel by mobile phone,” it said.

“A UK Coastguard fixed wing aircraft R99 was also despatched by UK authorities to assist in the search,” it said.

“ On Sunday, the aircraft spotted the vessel approximately 32 nautical miles west of Achill Island, Co Mayo, and MRSC Malin Head tasked R118 from Sligo along with Achill island lifeboat,” it said.

“R118 made contact with the skipper who advised that the vessel had lost all power. The Achill island lifeboat proceeded to the vessel's position and secured a tow line,” it said.

The lifeboat towed the vessel overnight to Clare Island, Co Mayo, arriving safely on Monday morning shortly before 9 am, and the yachtsman was reported to be in “good spirits” after his ordeal.

The Achill Trent class lifeboat with coxswain Dave Curtis included mechanic Michael Cattigan, Terry Hogarth, Ken Quinn, Ivan Swarbrigg, Stephen McGreal and Thomas Ruddy on board.

Winds were northwesterly winds with force of three to four sea conditions which began to calm during late morning, according to the RNLI.

Published in Coastguard
Tagged under

In the lead up to the May bank holiday weekend, the Coast Guard, RNLI and Water Safety Ireland have issued a joint water safety appeal, asking people to take some basic steps to stay safe, as incidents continue to occur as the weather improves and more people visit waterways nationwide or participate in coastal and inland aquatic activities.

There has been a seasonable increase in the overall number of search and rescue incidents with activity levels similar to recent years. The three organisations are drawing particular attention to the need for people involved in sea kayaking and similar activities, to receive proper training before going on the water, to carry a reliable means of calling for help and to tell someone where you are going and what time you will be back.

Water temperatures remain cold even at this time of year and Cold Water Shock can affect everyone. The three organisations advise everyone intending to take part in any water-based activity or coastal walks to take some basic steps in advance to keep safe.

If heading out on the water or visiting the coast:

  • Always check the weather and tides
  • Carry a reliable means of raising the alarm (i.e. VHF radio or phone)
  • Tell someone where you are going and what time you will be back
  • Wear a suitable Personal Flotation Device on the water
  • Watch out for incoming tides to avoid getting cut off. With High Tides ranging from midday to early evening depending on the part of the coast, it is important that people check before walking along the coast.

If you are swimming:

  • Water temperatures are still cold at this time of the year, consider wearing a wetsuit to stay warm
  • Acclimatise slowly
  • Wear a bright swimming cap and consider a tow float to increase your visibility
  • Never swim alone and always ensure that your activity is being monitored by a colleague

Micheál O’Toole, Irish Coast Guard Operations Manager, said: ‘It is important to have a means of communication if engaging in any water-based activity. When boating, carry a VHF radio, backed up by flares, PLB (Personal Locator Beacon) or EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon). Never solely rely on a mobile phone.’

He added ‘that prior to undertaking any boat activity please ensure that equipment is fit for purpose and that a shore-based contact is aware of your plans and estimated duration.’

Kevin Rahill, RNLI Water Safety Lead, added: ‘Many people will be taking to the water for the first time this year and this is a good time to think about checking your equipment, especially your lifejacket. We recommend that people get their lifejackets serviced annually. Not everyone intends to end up in the water. If you fall in unexpectedly, remember to ‘Float to Live’ – lie on your back and spread your arms and legs, gently moving them to keep afloat. Keep floating until you feel your breath coming back before calling for help or swimming ashore if nearby.

‘For visitors and people new to our shores, the RNLI has a range of translated safety resources in many languages which are available to download here: https://rnli.org/safety/multi-lingual-resources

Roger Sweeney, Water Safety Ireland’s Acting CEO, cautions: ‘Muscle cooling due to hypothermia is a factor in many drownings. Swim within your depth and keep it short as warm air does not mean warm water, especially in May. Children require close, constant, uninterrupted supervision. When shoreline walking, beware of being stranded by incoming tides. Many recently arrived Ukrainians have never visited a beach and are unfamiliar with such stranding risks. Please help to keep them safe by reaching out in your community with the translated advice at; www.watersafety.ie/ukraine ’

If you see somebody in trouble on the water or along the coast, or think they are in trouble; Dial 112 or use VHF radio CH 16 and ask for the Coast Guard.

Published in Coastguard

The Dun Laoghaire Coast Guard team was tasked to assist National Ambulance Service (NAS) with a casualty on a yacht at Dun Laoghaire Harbour on St Stephen's Day.

The RNLI Dun Laoghaire Lifeboat and Dublin Fire Brigade also attended. The casualty was treated on scene by the inshore lifeboat crew and staff at the town marina until paramedics arrived.

The casualty was then stretchered to an awaiting ambulance.

While packing up after the incident, a member of the public alerted the Coast Guard to someone who had fallen on the road near the marina. An ambulance was already called for by other members of the public but the Coast Guard team provided initial first aid treatment and care until they arrived. 

The Irish Coast Guard, a Division of the Department of Transport has vacancies for Watch Officers at its three Marine Rescue Coordination Centres in Dublin, Malin Head, Co Donegal and Valentia, Co Kerry. The IRCG provides a nationwide maritime emergency service as well as a variety of services to shipping and other government agencies.

Watch Officers are responsible for watch-keeping on the marine emergency frequencies and are required to act as Search and Rescue Mission Co-ordination Officers (SMCs) and Marine Alert and Notification Officers. They process marine communication traffic, respond to ship casualty and pollution incidents, monitor vessel traffic schemes and coordinate Coast Guard aviation operations.

The closing date for receipt of completed applications is 3 pm on Thursday, 6th January 2022.

For more information and how to apply, visit: https://bit.ly/Afloat_Ad_WatchO

The Public Appointments Service is committed to a policy of equal opportunity and encourage applications under all nine grounds of the Employment Equality Act.

Published in Jobs
Tagged under

People Before Profit TD Bríd Smith has said the next contract for search and rescue aviation services should not be awarded to CHC Ireland.

Such services should be operated by the State, Ms Smith said.

She was speaking in the Dáil yesterday (November 17) during statements on the Air Accident Investigation Unit’s (AAIU) final report into the loss of four lives in the Irish Coast Guard Rescue 116 helicoper crash off Mayo in March 2017.

The final AAIU report published on November 5th made 71 findings and 42 recommendations in relation to the Sikorsky S-92 crash, which claimed the lives of Capt Dara Fitzpatrick, Capt Mark Duffy and winch crew Paul Ormsby and Ciarán Smith.

The bodies of the winch crew have still not been recovered.

Addressing Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan in the Dáil chamber, Ms Smith noted that he had referred to it as “a tragic, unforeseen accident”.

"I don’t believe this was a tragic, unforeseen accident"

“But I don’t believe this was a tragic, unforeseen accident, because when you prioritise costs in tendering out core services then you create very serious risk and cost of life,” Ms Smith said.

The Rescue 116 crew were employed by CHC Ireland which holds the current Irish Coast Guard contract to run four search and rescue aviation bases. A tender for the new contract is currently underway.

Referring to navigational issues, she questioned the “light-touch regulation” and the role of the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA).

“If we are to fully honour the crew of 116, and indeed to honour all of the Air Corps and sea rescue personnel, then we have to do more than simply accept the recommendations in this report,” Ms Smith said.

“We have to end the light-touch regulation in bodies like the IAA, and we have to end the tendering and obsession with cutting costs for vital public services and ensure the State operates such vital services itself,” she said.

“If you award that contract to CHC...then the dedicated staff and the personnel that are employed to look after our safety at sea and to rescue us will we be highly insulted,” she told the minister.

“ I think it would be an absolute irony and a tragedy for the State to do this,” she added.

Ms Smith expressed solidarity with the families of the four crew and said the State owed them an apology.

She also questioned why the final report had been sent for review, delaying its publication by over two years.

Opening the two hour debate, Minister Ryan said he accepted all of the recommendations relating to his department.

While it would take some time for his department to deal with each of the findings, he said he would formally respond to all of the safety recommendations ahead of a 90-day timeframe for him to do so.

The AAIU had concluded that the tragedy was an "organisational accident", he said, and he outlined a number of measures taken by his department to improve search and rescue operations, including publication of a national search and rescue plan.

A review of all training for Irish Coast Guard staff had taken place, and there had been a formal course on tasking of aviation assets.

New legislation would formalise the role of the IAA on oversight of search and rescue.

Mr Ryan explained that his department had asked that the IAA’s role as civil regulator be reviewed by external experts this year, and it found no gaps under the Irish Aviation Act 1993 in meeting obligations.

He paid tribute to the work of the AAIU and to the four Rescue 116 crew and expressed sympathies to their families.

Sympathies were also expressed by a number of deputies participating in the debate.

Independent TD for Galway West Catherine Connolly expressed frustration that such a short time frame had been allotted for considering such a lengthy and detailed report at 350 pages.

Sinn Féin’s transport spokesman Darren O’Rourke said that accepting the findings of the report alone was not enough.

He called on the minister to provide a timeline for when each of the 42 safety recommendations would be implemented.

Mr O’Rourke asked what mechanism would be used to ensure the different parties, to which recommendations were addressed, would comply with the report on a coordinated basis.

Mayo Sinn Féin TD Rose Conway Walsh welcomed the minister’s commitment, and said robust and thorough action was required to ensure crews had confidence in their working environment.

People living in her constituency in Erris had a special place in their hearts for the sacrifice made by the four crew on the morning of March 14th, 2017, she said.

Labour TD Aodhán Ó’Ríordáin read the statement on the AAIU report by the Irish Airline Pilots Association into the Dáil record, and noted that the pilots’ union had said that the loss of life was as "needless as it was preventable".

Fianna Fáil TD for Mayo Dara Calleary and Social Democrats co-leader Catherine Murphy also questioned why search and rescue aviation was not being run by the State.

Mr Calleary paid tribute to the communities in Erris and north Mayo who had rallied to provide support during the extended search effort.

Irish Coast Guard volunteers who were on call 24/7 deserved dignity and respect, which they were not getting at present, Mr Calleary said.

The loss of four Air Corps search and rescue helicopter crew in the Dauphin crash off Tramore, Co Waterford in 1999 was recalled by two Waterford deputies - Independent TD Matt Shanahan and Green Party TD Marc Ó Cathasaigh.

Mr Shanahan recalled that Capt Dave O'Flaherty, Capt Mick Baker, Sgt Paddy Mooney and Cpl Niall Byrne died shortly after midnight on July 2nd, 1999, while returning from a rescue mission off the Waterford coast.

He said the State needed to install a permanent fixed wing aircraft based in Dublin to provide top cover for search and rescue, assist in marine pollution, and with patient transfer capability.

He also queried the delay in rolling out night vision goggles for all search and rescue.

Members of the house observed a moment of silence in memory of the four Rescue 116 crew who died in the crash at the close of the debate.

Published in Coastguard
Tagged under

John O’Mahony, Chairman of the first representative association for Coast Guard volunteers, says that “Personnel issues are the worst failing in the Coast Guard. It’s like a blind spot.”

He was Deputy Officer-in-Charge of the Toe Head Unit, originally the ‘Coast and Cliff Rescue’ before the Coast Guard was re-named and amalgamated with the Glandore Unit in West Cork. Toe Head is on the coastal edge south of Castletownshend and Glandore in West Cork.

O’Mahony runs Belco Marine Electronics Ltd., in Skibbereen and has experience in the fishing industry and the Defence Forces.

The Coast Guard is a vital lifesaving service. Its Volunteers are crucial to its successful operation. Still, the Volunteer issues are a cause for concern when a Unit like that at Doolin is taken off its operational role because members resigned. Catriona Lucas, who died during a search operation in Kilkee, was a member of the Doolin Unit. The new representative association was publicly launched in Kilkee.

Reporting issues in the management and operations of the Coast Guard has been a challenge. I have had many calls, some supportive, others with information and some rather vitriolic, condemning media reports and denying any personnel problems.

John O’Mahony told me on my Maritime Ireland Radio Show that the new association is now seeking “an urgent meeting” with Transport Minister Eamonn Ryan and Minister of State at the Department, which has responsibility for the Coast Guard, Hildegarde Naughton.

Listen to my Podcast with John O'Mahony here

Published in Tom MacSweeney
Tagged under

After decades of searching, researchers from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Coast Guard have located the shipwreck of the former U.S. Revenue Cutter, Bear.

The wreck of the Bear, which was lost at sea in 1963, is about 90 miles south of Cape Sable in Nova Scotia.

It was considered an amazing coincidence when the wreck was one of two targets initially located during an expedition two years by the current Coastguard cutter, also named Bear and which it was decided to explore further by USCG and NOAA teams this year by the larger and better equipped USCG's ocean-going buoy tender, Sycamore, with an advanced remotely operated vehicle (ROV) equipped with high-resolution underwater video cameras to to document the "unidentified wreck".

The team was able to collect evidence to positively identify the wreck.

Considered one of the most historically significant ships in U.S. and Coast Guard history, USRC Bear was built in Scotland in 1874 and purchased by the U.S. government in 1884.It was originally put into service by the U.S. Navy during the Arctic search for the Greely Expedition, where she earned her initial fame as the vessel that rescued the few survivors of that expedition. In 1885, Bear was transferred from the Treasury Department for service in the Arctic as a Revenue Cutter, where she patrolled for 41 years. After serving in the Greenland Patrols during World War II, the Bear was decommissioned in 1944 and was lost at sea while being towed to Philadelphia by a private party in 1963.

Researchers have been searching for the Bear since 1979. In 2007, a search was coordinated by the U.S. Navy but was ultimately unsuccessful. In recent years, NOAA and the U.S. Coast Guard have teamed up with other partners to locate the wreck site. The U.S. Revenue Cutter Service was established by Congress in 1790, operating under the Department of Treasury and later merged with the U.S. Life-Saving Service to form the United States Coast Guard.

Published in Historic Boats
Tagged under

Bundoran RNLI was involved in the rescue of a woman who got into difficulty off the Main Beach in Bundoran early yesterday morning (Sunday 10 October).

The volunteer crew were requested to launch their inshore lifeboat by Malin Head Coast Guard shortly after 8 am following a report that a swimmer was missing off the Main Beach. The alarm was raised by a member of the public.

Weather conditions were poor at the time with fresh winds and rough seas.

The lifeboat helmed by Richard Gillespie and with three crew members onboard, launched immediately and made its way to the scene where on arrival they observed that the casualty had managed to make her way back to shore but was exhausted from doing so. Prior to the lifeboat arriving, a member of the public who spotted the casualty in difficulty, grabbed a life ring and went into the water knee deep to meet the casualty and help her.

Two lifeboat crew members went ashore and began to administer casualty care while Bundoran RNLI’s shore crew and members of the public also assisted.

The Irish Coast helicopter, Rescue 118 from Sligo, was also tasked and when it arrived, the woman was subsequently transferred and airlifted to Sligo University Hospital as a precautionary measure.

Bundoran RNLI volunteer Killian O’Kelly is reminding anyone planning on entering the water at this time of the year to take extra precautions to keep themselves safe: ‘This was the second call out for Bundoran RNLI in just over a week to swimmers who got caught in rip currents and thankfully in both cases, everyone is safe and well. However, we want to remind anyone planning a trip to a beach or entering the water, that weather conditions have changed now that summer is over. There is more sea swell and more wind so the risks as a result can increase. Seasonal lifeguards that would have been patrolling the beach during the summer, are not there during the autumn and winter months so it is important to be extra cautious. If you are going swimming, check the weather forecast and tide times in advance and try not to go alone. Always consider using a tow float and wear a bright coloured cap to increase your visibility.

‘Avoid areas where you see breaking waves unless you have the experience or knowledge of the beach you are on. Rip currents can be difficult to spot and are notoriously dangerous. Even the most experienced beachgoers and swimmers can be caught out by rips and our advice if you do get caught in a rip, is don’t try to swim against it or you will get exhausted. If you can stand, wade and don’t swim. If you can, swim parallel to the shore until free of the rip and then head for shore. Always raise your hand and shout for help. If you see someone who you think might be in trouble, don't delay, dial 999 or 112 and ask for the Coast Guard.’

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
Tagged under
Page 1 of 14

Ireland's Offshore Renewable Energy

Because of Ireland's location at the Atlantic edge of the EU, it has more offshore energy potential than most other countries in Europe. The conditions are suitable for the development of the full range of current offshore renewable energy technologies.

Offshore Renewable Energy FAQs

Offshore renewable energy draws on the natural energy provided by wind, wave and tide to convert it into electricity for industry and domestic consumption.

Offshore wind is the most advanced technology, using fixed wind turbines in coastal areas, while floating wind is a developing technology more suited to deeper water. In 2018, offshore wind provided a tiny fraction of global electricity supply, but it is set to expand strongly in the coming decades into a USD 1 trillion business, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). It says that turbines are growing in size and in power capacity, which in turn is "delivering major performance and cost improvements for offshore wind farms".

The global offshore wind market grew nearly 30% per year between 2010 and 2018, according to the IEA, due to rapid technology improvements, It calculated that about 150 new offshore wind projects are in active development around the world. Europe in particular has fostered the technology's development, led by Britain, Germany and Denmark, but China added more capacity than any other country in 2018.

A report for the Irish Wind Energy Assocation (IWEA) by the Carbon Trust – a British government-backed limited company established to accelerate Britain's move to a low carbon economy - says there are currently 14 fixed-bottom wind energy projects, four floating wind projects and one project that has yet to choose a technology at some stage of development in Irish waters. Some of these projects are aiming to build before 2030 to contribute to the 5GW target set by the Irish government, and others are expected to build after 2030. These projects have to secure planning permission, obtain a grid connection and also be successful in a competitive auction in the Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS).

The electricity generated by each turbine is collected by an offshore electricity substation located within the wind farm. Seabed cables connect the offshore substation to an onshore substation on the coast. These cables transport the electricity to land from where it will be used to power homes, farms and businesses around Ireland. The offshore developer works with EirGrid, which operates the national grid, to identify how best to do this and where exactly on the grid the project should connect.

The new Marine Planning and Development Management Bill will create a new streamlined system for planning permission for activity or infrastructure in Irish waters or on the seabed, including offshore wind farms. It is due to be published before the end of 2020 and enacted in 2021.

There are a number of companies aiming to develop offshore wind energy off the Irish coast and some of the larger ones would be ESB, SSE Renewables, Energia, Statkraft and RWE.

There are a number of companies aiming to develop offshore wind energy off the Irish coast and some of the larger ones would be ESB, SSE Renewables, Energia, Statkraft and RWE. Is there scope for community involvement in offshore wind? The IWEA says that from the early stages of a project, the wind farm developer "should be engaging with the local community to inform them about the project, answer their questions and listen to their concerns". It says this provides the community with "the opportunity to work with the developer to help shape the final layout and design of the project". Listening to fishing industry concerns, and how fishermen may be affected by survey works, construction and eventual operation of a project is "of particular concern to developers", the IWEA says. It says there will also be a community benefit fund put in place for each project. It says the final details of this will be addressed in the design of the RESS (see below) for offshore wind but it has the potential to be "tens of millions of euro over the 15 years of the RESS contract". The Government is also considering the possibility that communities will be enabled to invest in offshore wind farms though there is "no clarity yet on how this would work", the IWEA says.

Based on current plans, it would amount to around 12 GW of offshore wind energy. However, the IWEA points out that is unlikely that all of the projects planned will be completed. The industry says there is even more significant potential for floating offshore wind off Ireland's west coast and the Programme for Government contains a commitment to develop a long-term plan for at least 30 GW of floating offshore wind in our deeper waters.

There are many different models of turbines. The larger a turbine, the more efficient it is in producing electricity at a good price. In choosing a turbine model the developer will be conscious of this ,but also has to be aware the impact of the turbine on the environment, marine life, biodiversity and visual impact. As a broad rule an offshore wind turbine will have a tip-height of between 165m and 215m tall. However, turbine technology is evolving at a rapid rate with larger more efficient turbines anticipated on the market in the coming years.

 

The Renewable Electricity Support Scheme is designed to support the development of renewable energy projects in Ireland. Under the scheme wind farms and solar farms compete against each other in an auction with the projects which offer power at the lowest price awarded contracts. These contracts provide them with a guaranteed price for their power for 15 years. If they obtain a better price for their electricity on the wholesale market they must return the difference to the consumer.

Yes. The first auction for offshore renewable energy projects is expected to take place in late 2021.

Cost is one difference, and technology is another. Floating wind farm technology is relatively new, but allows use of deeper water. Ireland's 50-metre contour line is the limit for traditional bottom-fixed wind farms, and it is also very close to population centres, which makes visibility of large turbines an issue - hence the attraction of floating structures Do offshore wind farms pose a navigational hazard to shipping? Inshore fishermen do have valid concerns. One of the first steps in identifying a site as a potential location for an offshore wind farm is to identify and assess the level of existing marine activity in the area and this particularly includes shipping. The National Marine Planning Framework aims to create, for the first time, a plan to balance the various kinds of offshore activity with the protection of the Irish marine environment. This is expected to be published before the end of 2020, and will set out clearly where is suitable for offshore renewable energy development and where it is not - due, for example, to shipping movements and safe navigation.

YEnvironmental organisations are concerned about the impact of turbines on bird populations, particularly migrating birds. A Danish scientific study published in 2019 found evidence that larger birds were tending to avoid turbine blades, but said it didn't have sufficient evidence for smaller birds – and cautioned that the cumulative effect of farms could still have an impact on bird movements. A full environmental impact assessment has to be carried out before a developer can apply for planning permission to develop an offshore wind farm. This would include desk-based studies as well as extensive surveys of the population and movements of birds and marine mammals, as well as fish and seabed habitats. If a potential environmental impact is identified the developer must, as part of the planning application, show how the project will be designed in such a way as to avoid the impact or to mitigate against it.

A typical 500 MW offshore wind farm would require an operations and maintenance base which would be on the nearby coast. Such a project would generally create between 80-100 fulltime jobs, according to the IWEA. There would also be a substantial increase to in-direct employment and associated socio-economic benefit to the surrounding area where the operation and maintenance hub is located.

The recent Carbon Trust report for the IWEA, entitled Harnessing our potential, identified significant skills shortages for offshore wind in Ireland across the areas of engineering financial services and logistics. The IWEA says that as Ireland is a relatively new entrant to the offshore wind market, there are "opportunities to develop and implement strategies to address the skills shortages for delivering offshore wind and for Ireland to be a net exporter of human capital and skills to the highly competitive global offshore wind supply chain". Offshore wind requires a diverse workforce with jobs in both transferable (for example from the oil and gas sector) and specialist disciplines across apprenticeships and higher education. IWEA have a training network called the Green Tech Skillnet that facilitates training and networking opportunities in the renewable energy sector.

It is expected that developing the 3.5 GW of offshore wind energy identified in the Government's Climate Action Plan would create around 2,500 jobs in construction and development and around 700 permanent operations and maintenance jobs. The Programme for Government published in 2020 has an enhanced target of 5 GW of offshore wind which would create even more employment. The industry says that in the initial stages, the development of offshore wind energy would create employment in conducting environmental surveys, community engagement and development applications for planning. As a site moves to construction, people with backgrounds in various types of engineering, marine construction and marine transport would be recruited. Once the site is up and running , a project requires a team of turbine technicians, engineers and administrators to ensure the wind farm is fully and properly maintained, as well as crew for the crew transfer vessels transporting workers from shore to the turbines.

The IEA says that today's offshore wind market "doesn't even come close to tapping the full potential – with high-quality resources available in most major markets". It estimates that offshore wind has the potential to generate more than 420 000 Terawatt hours per year (TWh/yr) worldwide – as in more than 18 times the current global electricity demand. One Terawatt is 114 megawatts, and to put it in context, Scotland it has a population a little over 5 million and requires 25 TWh/yr of electrical energy.

Not as advanced as wind, with anchoring a big challenge – given that the most effective wave energy has to be in the most energetic locations, such as the Irish west coast. Britain, Ireland and Portugal are regarded as most advanced in developing wave energy technology. The prize is significant, the industry says, as there are forecasts that varying between 4000TWh/yr to 29500TWh/yr. Europe consumes around 3000TWh/year.

The industry has two main umbrella organisations – the Irish Wind Energy Association, which represents both onshore and offshore wind, and the Marine Renewables Industry Association, which focuses on all types of renewable in the marine environment.

©Afloat 2020

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 2022

Featured Marinas

dlmarina sidebutton

Featured Chandleries

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

Featured Sailmakers

northsails sidebutton
uksails sidebutton
quantum sidebutton
watson 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