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Displaying items by tag: Irish Coast Guard

The Irish Coast Guard is appealing to all mariners and coastal communities to be mindful of the severe weather warnings and to note the imminent arrival of Storm Barra.

The coastguard is also appealing to anybody considering any form of coastal or open water recreation to be mindful of the risk posed by forecasted Storm conditions.

Walkers are advised to avoid any exposed areas, including seafront and cliff walkways, as they may be hit by sudden gusts, exposing themselves to unnecessary danger.

All other forms of open water recreation should be avoided, including by experienced practitioners, as it may result in arousing public concerns and causing rescue services to be alerted.

A small craft weather warning is already in place and Met Éireann is forecasting that gale to storm force southeasterly winds will extend to all coastal areas from early Tuesday, veering west to northwest in direction later.

As reported earlier on Afloat.ie, winds are forecast to reach Violent Storm Force 11 on Irish coastal waters from West Cork to Galway. The combination of southeasterly winds, spring tides and low pressure provide for an increased risk of localised flooding.

Coastguard operations manager Micheál O’Toole appealed to the public to remain vigilant, to avoid any unnecessary travel and to monitor Met Éireann weather forecasts.

“Remember: stay back, stay high, stay dry. If you see somebody in trouble on the water or on the coast, dial 112 or use marine VHF Channel 16, and ask for the coastguard.”

Published in Weather

Members of Courtown/Arklow Coast Guard were recently presented with medals of tenure, as the Gorey Guardian reports.

And chief among them was Benjamin Murphy, who was recognised for his 40 years’ service prior to his recent retirement.

“Pulling off 40 years of service is nearly impossible to do and it’s a massive achievement as a volunteer,” David Swinburne of Courtown/Arklow Coast Guard said.

The Gorey Guardian has more on the story HERE.

Published in Coastguard

A crew member on a Spanish fishing vessel who fell ill with a suspected stroke was airlifted in an operation off the South West Coast on Thursday (2 December), as TheJournal.ie reports.

The Irish Coast Guard’s Shannon-based helicopter Rescue 115 was called to the vessel some 80 nautical miles off Castletownbere for the medevac on Thursday afternoon.

Due to poor weather in Cork and Tralee, the casualty — once winched aboard — was flown to Shannon Airport for transfer by ambulance to University Hospital Limerick for further treatment.

Rescue 115’s winchman on the deck of the Spanish fishing vessel for the medevac on Thursday | Credit: Rescue 115/FacebookRescue 115’s winchman on the deck of the Spanish fishing vessel for the medevac on Thursday | Credit: Rescue 115/Facebook

“Many thanks to the crew of Rescue 01, an Irish Air Corps Casa maritime patrol aircraft that provided top cover for us,” the coastguard team said in a statement on social media.

TheJournal.ie has more on the story HERE.

Published in Coastguard

Kieran Mulvey has been appointed as a mediator to attempt to resolve the Doolin Coast Guard crisis, as RTÉ News reports.

The former director of the Workplace Relations Commission has been appointed by Minister of State Hildegarde Naughton to step in and help to find a solution for issues within the Co Clare coastguard unit.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the station has been stood down after the mass resignation of six volunteers at the start of this month following years of rancour and division between members and Irish Coast Guard management.

Welcoming the appointment, local Senator Timmy Dooley said Mulvey will bring “immense experience” to the role and that he hoped “all sides will engage”. RTÉ News has more on the story.

Last week, the chairman of the new coastguard volunteers’ representative association told Afloat’s Tom MacSweeney that personnel issues have been “a blind spot” for the coastguard. Listen to the podcast HERE.

Published in Coastguard
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Individuals who risked their own lives to aid others in peril on the water made up the bulk of this year’s National Bravery Awards, which were presented by the Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl on Friday (12 November).

The ceremony at Farmleigh House in Dublin’s Phoenix Park brought recipients together to receive their Certificates of Bravery for 17 acts of bravery. There were also nine Bronze Medals for Bravery awarded, while another six recipients received Silver Medals for Bravery.

“What these awards celebrate is the noblest impulse within a human being, to risk their life in order to save another,” the Ceann Comhairle said.

“We honour people who leaped into stormy seas, who braved swollen rivers, climbed down cliffs, assisted at road traffic collisions and performed other remarkable deeds. Through their actions there are people alive today who would undoubtedly have died.”

The crew of the Waterford-based Irish Coast Guard helicopter Rescue 117 were each awarded a Certificate of Bravery for their efforts to evacuate seven from a fishing vessel that sank at Kenmare Bay in March this year.

Sarah Courtney, Ronan Flanagan and Adrian O’Hara from Waterford and Aaron Hyland from Galway each received Certificates of Bravery, and for her actions Sarah Courtney was also awarded a Silver Medal.

Four visiting Americans were commended after leaping into action to rescue a young girl who was swept out to sea on an inflatable at Portmarnock Beach in July 2019.

Walter Butler — a member of the US Coast Guard — and his relatives Declan Butler, Eoghan Butler and Alexander Hugh Thomson from Arlington, Virginia each received a Certificate of Bravery.

Another incident at Portmarnock the following month saw Gerard Tyrrell receive a Bronze Medal and a Certificate of Bravery for his rescue of two girls blown out to sea on an inflatable flamingo.

Shane Moloney was commended for saving his father Noel’s life after the boat they were moving out of a field behind their North Cork home struck overhead power lines, delivering a near-fatal 10,000-volt electric shock.

Beth Darrer and Niamh McMahon each received a Bronze Medal and a Certificate of Bravery for their swift response to help rescue four young men who got into difficulty in the water at Inchydoney Beach in May 2020.

For her selfless actions in rescuing a father and his three daughters swept out to sea off Portsalon Beach in Co Donegal in July 2020, Jane Friel was awarded a Bronze Medal and a Certificate of Bravery.

Scott McQuaid was honoured with a Silver Medal and a Certificate of Bravery for his rescue of a young boy who had got into difficulty with his father when their kayak capsized at Ardreigh Lock on the River Barrow in Athy in February this year.

Zoey Lally rescued three teenage boys who were swept into the sea from Easkey Pier by a high wave in March this year, and received a Silver Medal and a Certificate of Bravery for her actions.

A number of gardaí were also commended in this years awards, with Garda Keenan McGavisk and Garda Róisín O’Donnell receiving Bronze Medals for their rescue of a distressed man from a fast-flowing river in Ardee, Co Louth in March last year, and Garda Caroline O’Brien also getting a Bronze Medal for saving the life of a young man who entered the water near St John’s Quay in Kilkenny in July 2019.

And 26 years after her crucial lifesaving actions, a Silver Medal and Certificate of Braver were awarded to Susan Hackett for the rescue of two young people who got into difficulty while swimming in the River Suir new Newcastle, Co Tipperary in the summer of 1995.

The National Bravery Awards are awarded annually by Comhairle na Míre Gaile – the Deeds of Bravery Council – which was founded in 1947 to enable State recognition of exceptional acts of bravery.

The council is chaired by the Ceann Comhairle and includes the Cathaoirleach of Seanad Éireann, the Lord Mayors of Dublin and Cork, the Garda Commissioner, the President of the Association of City & County Councils and the chairman of the Irish Red Cross.

Published in Rescue

TheJournal.ie reports that the Government intends to appoint an independent mediator to resolve issues at Doolin Coast Guard that led to the resignation of six volunteers last week.

Fears have been growing over the future of the Irish Coast Guard unit in Co Clare, which was left with just five active and fully trained volunteers and was subsequently stood down.

One coastguard member said the situation that involves accusations of bullying within the service “has been simmering in Doolin for years”.

Responding to a question in the Seanad the past Tuesday (9 November) from Fianna Fáil Senator Timmy Dooley, Minister of State Hildegarde Naughton suggested there is “a role for an independent person or mediator to be appointed to the Doolin unit with a view to resolving the difficulties”.

TheJournal.ie has more on the story HERE.

Published in Coastguard
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Fears have grown over the future of Doolin Coast Guard after the unit was suspended last week following the resignation of six volunteers members on Monday 1 November.

As the Irish Examiner reports, the Co Clare coastguard unit — which is now left with just five active and fully trained volunteers out of a complement of 11 — has been stood down.

However, Inis Óirr Coast Guard in the Aran Islands, which comes under the direct management of the Doolin unit, will remain operational.

One coastguard member said the situation that involves accusations of bullying within the service “has been simmering in Doolin for years”.

“Each and every one of those members was an invaluable asset to the service. Dublin [management] wasn’t blindsided by this but they blindly let it happen,” they said.

In a statement, the Irish Coast Guard said it “acknowledges the divisions that have unfortunately existed within the unit for a number of years”.

It added that it “will continue to offer support to all those affected by this event, and with the aim to strengthen the unit’s management structure, provide relevant training and mediation services as may be required, and return the unit to operational readiness as quickly as practicable”.

During the week the Dáil was told that the “toxic” working environment at Doolin is replicated “up and down” the country, according to The Irish Times.

It follows a report last month that paints “a picture of friction and strain” between the coastguard rank-and-file and upper management over claims of poor treatment of volunteers.

Meanwhile, a maritime lawyer has called for a “root and branch review” of the coastguard system in Ireland, as the Irish Independent reports.

Speaking to RTÉ Radio 1’s Morning Ireland on Wednesday (3 November) Michael Kingston alleged a “litany of failures” regarding volunteers’ safety within the service nationwide.

It comes in the same week that the final report into the loss of Rescue 116 and its four crew in a crash off the North Mayo coast in March 2017 was severely critical of risk management within CHC Ireland, which operates the search and rescue helicopter service for the Irish Coast Guard. Afloat.ie has more on that story HERE.

Published in Coastguard
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Carnsore/Rosslare Coast Guard is featured in the third episode of Ireland’s Unidentified Bodies, now streaming on the Virgin Media Player.

The episode glimpses into the coastguard’s part in assisting in a search for remains off the coast of Wexford.

As previously reported in the Irish Independent, the four-part docuseries hopes to join the dots in the search for Ireland’s missing people.

The series is currently being rebroadcast on Wednesdays, and you can catch episode three again next Wednesday night at 11pm on Virgin Media One.

Published in Maritime TV

The volunteer crew of Bundoran RNLI were called out on Wednesday afternoon (27 October) to reports of a cow in distress in the surf at Tullan Strand in the Donegal town.

A passer-by had spotted the animal in the water and immediately alerted the Irish Coast Guard at Malin Head who in turn paged the lifeboat crew.

The four crew launched the inshore lifeboat just after 4.30pm and made their way in rough seas to Tullan Strand to assess the situation, while a number of other volunteer crew attended via the shore to offer visual backup to the lifeboat crew.

As the swell was between three and four metres, conditions were difficult for the lifeboat to get closer to the shore with visibility of the cow also tricky for the shore crew.

Daisy Mae following her rescue on Wednesday | Credit: Daimon FergusDaisy Mae following her rescue on Wednesday | Credit: Daimon Fergus

The animal was soon spotted, however, by which time the Sligo-based coastguard helicopter Rescue 118 was on scene. Using the noise and downdraft of the helicopter, its crew were able to encourage the cow back to safety on the shore.

Both the lifeboat and helicopter stayed on scene to ensure the safety of the cow which was tended to on shore before both units were stood down.

Speaking on return to the lifeboat station, Bundoran RNLI helm Michael Patton said: “We were delighted to see a successful outcome from today’s callout and would like to thank those who assisted in the rescue of the cow.

“If you are ever worried that your pet or animal is in danger, call 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard, rather than putting yourself at risk by going into the water after them.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

A report in this weekend’s Irish Times highlights “a picture of friction and strain” within the Irish Coast Guard, with a number of former and serving coastguard officers taking management to task over allegations of poor treatment of volunteers.

The situation appears to put management’s new culture of safety protocols against volunteers “who feel the organisation’s priority has shifted away from rescue missions and saving lives”.

It describes the case of one decorated former volunteer in Co Waterford who believes he was driven out of the organisation over his political views and for voicing concern over safety issues.

However, such claims that volunteers are targeted and subject bullying or to unfair disciplinary measures have been rejected by acting Irish Coast Guard director Eugene Clonan, who maintains the changes are necessary.

Reforms have come in the wake of two major tragedies for the coastguard in recent years, with the death of volunteer Caitríona Lucas in September 2016 and the Rescue 116 crash in March 2017 which took four lives.

“We are not about best mates here, we’re about trying to run an organisation," Clonan said of the friction againt the changes, adding: "If you’re going to make an omelette, you’ve to crack a few eggs.”

The Irish Times has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Coastguard
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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

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