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Displaying items by tag: Lifeboats

In Co Mayo, Ballyglass RNLI’s inshore lifeboat launched to assist a fishing vessel in Broadhaven Bay in the station’s first callout of 2021.

At 12.30pm yesterday (Friday 2 April) the Irish Coast Guard requested the volunteer crew to assist a 35ft fishing vessel that had ran aground in the channel close to Belmullet docks and had sent a Mayday emergency distress signal.

Adhering to all COVID-19 procedures and guidelines, the inshore lifeboat — with Frankie Geraghty at the helm — launched immediately and was on scene within minutes, securing the casualty vessel and transferring its sole occupant safely ashore.

Pádraig Sheeran, volunteer lifeboat operations manager at Ballyglass RNLI, commended all involved on the expediency of the response.

“The RNLI and and the coastguard are always ready to assist but we ask the public to always put safety first, to always have a means of communication when on or near the water, and to always respect the water,” he said.

Earlier this week the RNLI and Irish Coast Guard issued a joint appeal to the public to heed safety advice when on or near the water over the Easter weekend and beyond, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Portrush RNLI’s volunteer crew launched their inshore lifeboat to reports of a fishing vessel in difficulty just outside the Northern Ireland harbour yesterday evening, Wednesday 31 March.

The 26-foot vessel with three on board lost power just outside the North Coast harbour’s wall at 5.25pm. Within minutes the lifeboat crew arrived in scene and set up a successful tow to the harbour pontoon.

Beni McAllister, lifeboat operations manager at Portrush RNLI, said: “With the season starting and all boats being allowed back in the harbour, we would ask that boat owners make sure that their boats are ready to go to sea and that all checks have been made.

“We are expecting a busy holiday season and look forward to welcoming our RNLI lifeguard colleagues back on the beaches this weekend.”

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With the Easter holidays now begun in Northern Ireland, Larne RNLI is encouraging anyone planning to visit the coast to know the risks to protect themselves and their families and to heed key sea safety advice.

Larne RNLI’s volunteer lifeboat crew have returned to training in the last month with Covid-19 protocols in place and have already seen an increase in the number of people using the coastline for exercise and using beaches and bays for open-water swimming.

The station has remained operational throughout the pandemic and will continue to launch around the clock where there is a risk to life.

Ahead of the Easter break, Allan Dorman, Larne RNLI lifeboat operations manager, reminded people who are planning to be by the sea to always respect the water.

“Coastal areas provide a great opportunity to enjoy fresh air and open space but it is important to remember it can be an unpredictable and dangerous environment, particularly during spring and early summer when air temperatures may be warm but water temperatures remain dangerously cold, increasing the risk of cold water shock,” he said.

“We are reminding anyone planning to enter the water to follow the latest government guidelines on what you are allowed to do and where and to take extra care and avoid unnecessary risks as early season conditions are more challenging.

“Basic precautions can greatly reduce the risk of getting into difficulty whatever your activity and improve your chance of being found quickly should you find yourself in trouble.”

For activities like kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding, the RNLI recommends you carry a means of calling for help, such as a mobile phone in a waterproof pouch, and that you ensure you are wearing the right kit for the water temperature.

“A wetsuit will keep you warm and help you float in an emergency although wearing an appropriate buoyancy aid or lifejacket is still vital,” Dorman said. “For open-water swimmers and dippers, please also remember to acclimatise slowly and be visible with a brightly coloured hat.

“When you are going to visit a beach or are going near the water, we recommend that you go with a friend who can call for help should the need arise. If you plan on going into the water, we advise that you go as a pair with someone on the shore who can act as a spotter to call for assistance if needed.

“Always make sure that you have a means to contact someone on the shore if you are going out on a boat or kayak and ensure that your equipment is fully operational especially if it is the first time for it to be used this year after winter and the lockdown period.

“Should you get into difficulty or see someone in trouble, dial 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.”

The RNLI’s key safety advice is:

  • Check weather forecasts, tide times and any local hazard signage to understand local risks
  • 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 to live: fight your instinct to thrash around, lean back, extend your arms and legs and float.
  • In an emergency, call 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard

For further information on how to keep safe by the sea, visit rnli.org/safety

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Lough Ree RNLI is urging the public using the River Shannon and Lough Ree to be safety conscious as they make the seasonal return to the waterway this weekend.

The volunteer lifeboat crew at Lough Ree RNLI have, in line with Covid-19 protocols, returned to the water for training this month and are ready for the new season on the water.

With the combination of Easter holidays, an upcoming extension in travel limits and the hope for better weather over the next few weeks, it’s expected that Lough Ree and the River Shannon will attract large numbers of local visitors.

Jude Kilmartin, Lough Ree RNLI lifeboat operations manager, said: “We are asking everyone planning on taking to the water over the holiday period to refresh their safety procedures, check that all safety equipment is in working order and remember never to go on the lake or river without lifejackets.”

The volunteer crew of Lough Ree RNLI looks forward to working with the local community and serving those in Longford, Westmeath and Roscommon who avail of the local amenities over Easter.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, Waterways Ireland has appealed for all users of Ireland’s inland waterways not to take part in any activity on the water under the prevailing pandemic restrictions.

Published in Inland Waterways
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Skerries RNLI rescued two stand-up paddle boarders after strong currents and Force 6 offshore winds prevented them from making their way back to shore.

Shortly before 2.30pm yesterday afternoon (Sunday 28 March), a retired Skerries RNLI volunteer noticed a man and woman struggling to make their way ashore on their paddle boards near Red Island in Skerries.

He alerted the lifeboat operations manager and following a brief discussion it was decided that the pair were not making any progress.

Dublin Coast Guard were contacted and the decision was taken to page the volunteer crew and launch the Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat Louis Simson.

The crew rounded the headland at Red Island and arrived on scene in a matter of minutes, funding the man and woman both extremely tired from fighting against the wind and tide.

They were taken on board the lifeboat along with their paddle boards. A first-aid assessment was carried out but aside from being exhausted they did not require any further medical assistance, and the pair were returned safely to the beach at the lifeboat station.

Speaking about the callout, volunteer lifeboat press officer Gerry Canning said: “It doesn’t matter how good your equipment is, or how prepared you are, things can still go wrong at sea.

“We would remind anyone going to sea to carry a means of contacting the shore for help, even if you do not intend to go far. Something as simple as a phone in a waterproof pouch can make all the difference.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Aran Islands RNLI’s volunteer crew were asked to launch their all-weather lifeboat from Inis Mór last night (Sunday 21 March) for a local man on the neighbouring island of Inis Meáin who sustained a facial injury and was in need of further medical attention.

The lifeboat launched under coxswain John O'Donnell and a full crew and headed straight for Inis Meáin. Conditions at the time of launching were good, with calm seas, a slight breeze and clear visibility.

Once at the pier in Inis Meáin, the patient was transferred safely aboard the lifeboat by the volunteer crew.

Following all strict Covid-19 health and safety guidelines, the lifeboat then processed straight for Rossaveal Harbour on the mainland and the waiting ambulance.

Speaking after the callout, O’Donnell said: “There was a quick response time by the volunteer crew to get the patient to the medical attention needed. The crew never hesitate to answer their pagers when they go off.

“We would like to wish the patient a speedy recovery.”

The callout came just days after the lifeboat crew were tasked with a double medevac amid poor visibility last Monday, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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The volunteer crew at Newcastle RNLI in Co Down returned to sea recently after normal training exercises had to be curtailed due to Covid-19.

While the station has remained fully operational throughout the pandemic and volunteers have remained on call 24/7, training has been limited for Northern Ireland’s RNLI crews.

The crew took their first training session in daylight hours in Dundrum Bay while the second exercise was at night. The volunteers all wore the necessary COVID-19 PPE as well as their usual seagoing suits and lifejackets during the training.

The Mersey class all-weather lifeboat Eleanor and Bryant Girling was given a timely workout on both occasions, which provided an opportunity for the crew members to put their training and lifesaving skills into practice.

Speaking following the exercises, Newcastle RNLI coxswain Nathan Leneghan said: “Maintaining our lifesaving service while keeping our people safe continues to be the RNLI’s main priority.

Newcastle RNLI volunteers on their recent night-time exercise

“Exercises form an important part of our work, allowing our lifeboat crews to maintain their skills and ensure they are always prepared for what they face out at sea.

“In the daylight exercise, we went on a local area knowledge exercise and mechanical shakedown to trial all the systems, ensuring they are ready when required. It was a glorious morning and a great opportunity to return to exercise.”

Newcastle RNLI’s second coxswain Niall McMurray added: “During the night-time exercise, the crew covered some mechanical engine tests after which we went on to focus on emergency procedures.

“We ran through all the alarms on the lifeboat to reacquaint ourselves with the different sounds and how to react if they were activated in a real-life situation. We practised a fire drill and how to deal with a fire in each area of the lifeboat.

“We then went on to test our flares which are primarily used to light up an area at night before concluding the evening learning how to rig and operate the emergency steering.”

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Aran Islands RNLI was tasked for a medevac from Inis Mór as a scheduled patient transfer by air was cancelled due to poor visibility yesterday morning, Monday 15 March.

Due to poor visibility, a scheduled patient transfer by air was unable to go ahead. The crew were requested to transfer the patient to Rossaveal.

Following all strict Covid-19 health and safety guidelines, the patient was transferred safely aboard the lifeboat to Rossaveal by both the RNLI crew, under John O'Donnell, and the Inis Mór Fire Service.

Having just launched on the return leg, the lifeboat was called back to Inis Mór as another patient on the island needed further medical attention.

The second patient was safely transferred aboard the lifeboat by the volunteer crew at the pontoon on Inis Mór, and the lifeboat then headed straight for Rossaveal Harbour and the waiting ambulance.

Speaking after the callout, Aran Islands RNLI coxswain John O'Donnell said: “The volunteer crew responded quickly and two patients are safely on their way to further medical attention — we would like to wish them both a speedy recovery.

“Poor visibility can be very dangerous on the water. Should you get into difficulty or see someone else in trouble, call 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.”

File image of Fenit RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat (Photo: RNLI/Fenit)File image of Fenit RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat | Photo: RNLI/Fenit

Elsewhere, Fenit RNLI’s volunteer crew responded to a report of concern for a windsurfer in the Maharees Islands area early on Sunday evening, 14 March.

The all-weather lifeboat launched with a full crew on board and headed to the location near Castlegregory, on the north side of the Dingle Peninsula.

The Irish Coast Guard’s Shannon-based helicopter Rescue 115 also attended the scene in a search co-ordinated by Valentia Coast Guard.

A search of the given location was under way when word was received that the windsurfer had safely made his way ashore.

Speaking following the callout, Fenit RNLI coxswain Finbarr O’Connell said: “Fenit RNLI are delighted with a safe and positive outcome for all concerned. As always this is an opportunity to remind all users of the sea to be as prepared as possible when going to sea.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Skerries RNLI carried out a medical evacuation of a crewman from a survey vessel six miles north of Skerries last night, Wednesday 10 March.

Shortly after 8pm, the lifeboat crew were tasked by Dublin Coast Guard following a call from the skipper of the vessel requesting assistance for a crew member who had been feeling unwell for a number of hours and was showing no signs of improvement.

On arrival at the survey vessel amid Force 5-6 winds, the lifeboat was carefully manoeuvred into position on the starboard side where a boarding ladder was lowered for the casualty to disembark.

The lifeboat crew carried out an initial assessment of the casualty and tried to keep him as comfortable as possible on the way back to the station and the care of the waiting paramedics, who transferred him to hospital for further assessment.

Speaking about the callout, volunteer lifeboat press officer Gerry Canning said: “It wasn’t a particularly pleasant evening to be out on a lifeboat, but our volunteers are always ready to go when they get the call.

“It was great to have the ambulance waiting on arrival and we wish the gentleman a speedy recovery.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Arklow RNLI’s new station mechanic responded to his first callout yesterday afternoon (Wednesday 10 March) when the lifeboat was tasked to assist a fishing vessel off Arklow Pier.

The volunteer crew left their lunch and were under way aboard the all-weather Trent class lifeboat Ger Tigchlearr within minutes of the request.

In challenging conditions and rising winds and seas, the lifeboat made its way to the reported position around a quarter of a mile north-east of Arklow Pier.

Once on scene, it was confirmed the casualty vessel with three people aboard had lost propulsion. A towline was established and the fishing boat was towed back to Arklow where all hands came ashore safely.

Following the callout, Mark Corcoran, community safety officer at Arklow RNLI, said: “Whether you are a professional fisherman or a leisure boat user, we would remind people to respect the water and always wear a lifejacket and carry a means of calling for help like a marine radio.

“This was also our first callout for our new station mechanic James Russell. On behalf of all at Arklow RNLI, we wish to congratulate James on his new role at Arklow lifeboat station.”

James takes over the role from Michael Fitzgerald, who recently retired after 40 years of dedicated service to the charity that saves lives at sea.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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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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