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Displaying items by tag: Coast Guard

Use of Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs) and Electronic Position Indicating Radio Beacons (EPIRBs) were responsible for directly saving the lives of Five Mariners in 2016 according to an end of year commentary by the Coast Guard. One of these incidents related to a Coast Guard helicopter rescue of a lone yachtsman, whose yacht had overturned, 20 miles south of Co Wexford. A second related to the location and recovery of three fishermen whose vessel had sunk. The third incident concerned the location of a single crewed yacht which had become dis-masted off the SW Coast and was subsequently towed to Castletownbere, Co Cork.

Overall the Coast Guard coordinated some 2500 incidents through its three Marine Rescue Coordination Centres based in Valentia, Malin and its Dublin Head Quarters. A total of 405 people who were rescued or assisted were categorised as ‘lives saved’ on the basis that the intervention precluded loss of life or severe risk of loss of life. The Coast Guard noted an increase in kayaking and surfing related incidents with a total of 45 individual incidents requiring a response being recorded. Coast Guard units and helicopters assisted with the recovery of forty five (45) bodies as a result of drowning and other missing person searches.

The tragic loss of Volunteer Caitríona Lucas cast a dark shadow over all Coast Guard activities. Caitríona, who was a member of the Doolin unit, was participating in a search operation off Kilkee on September 12th when she lost her life. She was the first volunteer member of the Coast Guard to lose her life on operational service.

The Forty Three (43) nationwide Coast Guard volunteer units responded to 1042 incidents. The units provide; Search, Rescue Boat and Cliff Rescue services in addition to local community support during inclement weather or other emergencies. These Units also work closely with Coast Guard helicopters in supervising helicopter landing sites as used in provision of aeromedical support to the HSE.

The Coast Guard Helicopter service, operating out of bases in Sligo, Shannon, Waterford and Dublin, provide day and night Search and Rescue (SAR) services throughout the year. Coast Guard helicopters also provide day and night aeromedical support to the HSE augmenting the day time service provided by the Air Corps. As part of this service Coast Guard helicopters conducted sixty one (61) patient transfers from offshore islands. Separately the Coast Guard transferred Nine (9) patients to UK for emergency procedures mainly relating to organ transplant. Coast Guard helicopters assisted the HSE/National Ambulance Service on 258 occasions in 2016.

Coast Guard Helicopters conducted Twenty (20) Long Range offshore missions, involving casualty evacuations at ranges exceeding 100 miles from land. The longest of these missions was conducted at a range of 150 miles West of Loop Head, Co Clare on March 7th, when an injured crewman was airlifted for transfer to hospital. Overall Coast Guard Helicopters completed 886 missions which included thirty six (36) casualty evacuations at sea.

Coast Guard helicopters flew twenty three (23) suspected pollution investigation missions – arising from satellite based reports.

Coast Guard volunteer units including, Dingle, Castletownbere, Killybegs and Westport participated in eighty six (86) mountain rescue missions in conjunction with Mountain Rescue Ireland, of which seventy seven (77) involved casualty recovery by Coast Guard Helicopters.

RNLI lifeboats were requested to launch on 837 occasions marginally higher that the corresponding figure for 2015. The Coast Guard enjoys a close and valued relationship with the RNLI and acknowledges the responsibility undertaken by the RNLI, and commends the dedication and commitment of the RNLI and its Volunteers.

During the year the Coast Guard completed a MOU (memo of understanding) with CFT (Comhairle Fo Thuinn - Irish Underwater Council) with regard to provision of qualified divers at search operations. A Coast Guard spokesperson also thanked the Naval Service and Gardaí for the ongoing provision of Diving teams to search operations throughout the year. In all twenty one (21) specific diving related searches were conducted by Gardaí, Navy and CFT Dive teams.

The Coast Guard also agreed a MOU with Dublin Fire Brigade with regard to coordination of Search and Rescue operations on the lower River Liffey.

An unfortunate side effect to EPIRBs and PLBs is the number of false activations arising from alerts being raised by equipment which the owner’s had assumed were properly disposed of when no longer in use. In a majority of cases owners can be quickly tracked enabling the alert to be cancelled but such errors can result in the unnecessary activation of response units. In all the Coast Guard received eighty nine (89) EPIRB/PLB alerts which were subsequently classified as being false or in error, many of which related to equipment no longer in use. The Coast Guard has appealed to all EPIRB users to deregister and properly dispose of disused EPIRBs.

In relation to drownings, adult males continue to be the most vulnerable group. Preliminary casualty assessment shows that well over 50% of people requiring assistance were not wearing Lifejackets.

The Coast Guard attaches great importance to Prevention as the primary strategy in reducing loss of life at sea and its most recent campaign focused on the theme of ‘No Lifejacket – No Excuse’. In 2017 a new departure will see the launch of a safety message based on the importance of retaining the ability to stay afloat coupled with a capacity to raise the alarm utilising the theme ‘Stay Afloat – Stay in Contact’.

During the year Coast Guard units continued to deliver a primary school water safety programme where the importance of wearing Lifejackets/ Personal Flotation Devices is emphasised. This strategy was backed up by patrols conducted by Coast Guard units where compliance with lifejacket/PFD requirements were checked and monitored.

The Coast Guard congratulated BIM on their safety initiative aimed at encouraging the fishing community to wear lifejackets at all times. The leisure community were also congratulated for their very high levels of compliance with basic water safety.

The Coast Guard reminds the public to raise the alarm if they think they are in trouble, as it might be too late when you are in trouble. The core message from the Coast Guard is;

If you see anybody in trouble at sea, on the coast or on cliffs call 112 and ask for the Coast Guard.

In conclusion Acting Coast Guard Director Eugene Clonan thanked all the staff and volunteers who have contributed to the many missions that were undertaken in 2016. He concluded; “I would also like to thank the Naval Service, Air Corps, RNLI, Community Rescue Boats, Gardaí, Mountain Rescue teams, the National Ambulance Service, Fire Service, Irish Under Water Council and other statutory and voluntary services, who we have worked together so well throughout the year. I want to particularly recognise the many volunteers who responded with such professionalism, whether that be in the Coast Guard, RNLI, Community Rescue Boats (CRBI) or Mountain Rescue teams. Sadly – at this time we remember the family of Caitríona Lucas and recall Caitríona as a person who so embodied the volunteer ethos.”

Published in Coastguard
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The Shannon based Coast Guard helicopter has completed the evacuation of a crewman from an Irish fishing vessel located 160 miles West of Loop Head, Co Clare. The injured man has been taken on-board the Coast Guard helicopter, R115 and will be transferred to University Hospital Limerick where is due to arrive at midday. The operation was coordinated by the Coast Guard Marine Rescue Centre in Valentia who were initially alerted by the fishing vessel, via HF (hi frequency long range) radio.

Weather conditions on scene were described as challenging with North Westerly winds exceeding 30 Knots but well within the operating limits of the Coast Guard helicopter.

Published in Coastguard
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The Irish Coast Guard, a Division of the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport has vacancies for Watch Officers at its three 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 emergency frequencies and are required to act as Marine Alert, Notification and Search and Rescue Mission Coordination Officers. They also process marine communication traffic and respond to ship casualty, pollution incidents and vessel traffic monitoring.

The Closing date for receipt of completed applications is 3.00pm on Thursday, 5th January, 2017

For more information and to make an application please visit www.publicjobs.ie.  

Download the press advertisement PDF below.

Published in Jobs
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The Howth–based Coast Guard boat “Sean A Dunne” was joined by some unexpected visitors today in the form of a school of Bottlenose Dolphins.

The Coast Guard crew of four from Howth station were on routine exercise in the Irish Sea off Donabate, Co Dublin in what was flat calm clear conditions.

The dolphins joined the crew surfing the bow waves of the Coast Guard boat before heading back to deeper waters.

 

Published in Coastguard
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Department of Transport, Tourism & Sport is inviting nominations in respect of the National Marine Gallantry and Meritorious Service Awards 2016. The purpose of this awards scheme is to recognise outstanding acts of courage, heroism, skill and initiative in the context of marine emergency incidents. The scheme also recognises exceptional dedication to duty in the execution of Ireland’s marine emergency response. The Marine Gallantry award is presented in the form of a medal (called the Michael Heffernan Medal for Marine Gallantry, in memory of an individual who lost his life during a marine incident a number of years ago). Three levels of medal may be awarded, based on the level of gallantry involved. The medal is awarded in gold, silver or bronze.

A second award, Marine Meritorious Service Medal, may be awarded where outstanding meritorious service has been provided to, or within the remit of, the Irish Coast Guard. The person must have demonstrated exceptional dedication to duty, coupled with skill and initiative, in the execution of the service being provided.

A Marine Ministerial Letter of Appreciation may be awarded for meritorious service where outstanding dedication to duty over a career of service can be demonstrated, or for an act of particular meritorious dedication, showing skill and initiative, but which is not of an order for receipt of a Meritorious Service Medal.

The National Marine Gallantry and Meritorious Service Awards Committee is chaired by Mr Bryan Dobson of RTE. Members of the Committee include representatives of the following, the Irish Sailing Association, Irish Water Safety, Irish Harbour Masters Association, Bord Iascaigh Mhara, Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport as well as other independent members. The National Marine Gallantry and Meritorious Awards Committee will adjudicate upon the nomination received.

The first award ceremony took place in February 1999 and the awards ceremony was last held on 23rd October 2014. In this round of Awards, nominations may be considered in respect of events occurring during the period 31st August 2014 to 31st August 2016.

Details of the Awards scheme, including nomination form, are available on the Department’s website www.dttas.ie/maritime/english/marine-awards. Completed nomination forms should be submitted by Friday 9th September 2016. The submission should be comprehensive and include all relevant information (e.g. eye-witness statements, official reports, maps, charts, photographs, newspaper cuttings etc.).

2014 Award Recipients
Mr Tony McNamara and Mr. Patrick McNamara - Marine Ministerial Letters of Appreciation for Meritorious Service
Mr Ben Graham, Mr David Grant and Mr. Alexander May - Marine Ministerial Letter of Appreciation for Meritorious Service
Drogheda Coast Guard Unit - Marine Ministerial Letter of Appreciation for Meritorious Service
Mr Michael O’Regan and the crew of the Goleen Coast Guard Unit - Marine Ministerial Letter of Appreciation for Meritorious Service
Mr Jim Griffin – Marine Ministerial Letter of Appreciation for Meritorious Service
Mr Damien Dempsey – Marine Ministerial Letter of Appreciation for Meritorious Service
Mulroy Coast Guard Unit – Michael Heffernan Bronze Medal for Marine Gallantry

Published in News Update

I reported in detail the two battles which the people of Valentia fought against the Department of Transport and the Coast Guard to prevent the closure of the Coastal Radio Station on the Kerry island.
Valentia is fortunate to be linked by a bridge to the mainland, but has still suffered from emigration and deprivation which neglect by the State can cause to isolated communities.
I have a great respect for island people. They have to overcome difficulties and obstacles in their daily lives that those living ashore will not encounter.
Those battles and, at the same time, that of the people of Malin at the other end of the country, to prevent the closure of the Malin Head Coastal Radio Station came to my mind in the context of a technological development which changed the world and started in Valentia.
The Department, of which the Coast Guard is part - an indication of the unfortunate dispersal of maritime matters amongst too many Government Departments in Ireland - wanted to centralise operations in Dublin. In the course of my reportage, I discovered that their proposed location was in the constituency of their then Minister. Curious! Another proposed retrenchment from the regions into Dublin. There was little to justify the plan.
The people of Valentia mounted a particularly strong case against the proposal, backed by research and technological facts. Malin also produced a strong case. I wonder about the attitude of officials based in Dublin who come up with proposals like this.

These topics came up for discussion again when I attended the 150th anniversary of the laying of the first successful TransAtlantic communications cable from Valentia to Newfoundland. The laying of the cable began on July 13, 1886 when the biggest ship in existence at the time, the Great Eastern, sailed from Valentia. It arrived in Newfoundland on July 27, 1886 having laid 2,000 miles of cable weighing 9,800 tons across the Atlantic.
“The Valentia cable of 1866 changed the world,” writes Dr. Donard de Cogan in his book - ‘They talk along the deep,’ the story of cable history which was launched at the island ‘cable festival.’ “To put a cable across the ocean in the 19th century was cutting edge. These people were stretching beyond the technology of that time.” So says Bernard S.Finn. Curator Emeritus of the Electricity Collections at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History, Washington D.C.
In this edition of my programme, I talk to Anthony O’Connell, Director of Valentia Island Development Company, about the island community’s attempts to gain UNESCO recognition for the island as a World Heritage Site, a case based on the technological breakthrough which started there. Ireland has only two out of 1,000 World Heritage Sites in Europe. England, Spain and Italy have between 30 to 40 World Heritage sites each! It is a revelation to hear of the extensive research and campaign work done by the people of Valentia.
On reflection, the Department of Transport and Coast Guard were unwise to take on the people of Valentia!
• Listen to the programme above

Published in Island Nation
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A father and son were rescued today, having being washed overboard from their kayak, thanks to the vigilance of Beach Lifeguards based at Tracht / Kinvarra.

Lifeguards Mark Buckley and Niall Hanley contacted the Coast Guard shortly after 3pm this afternoon when they became concerned about two kayakers who had set out earlier from Tracht beach. Valentia Coast Guard station immediately launched a search operation; tasking Galway Bay RNLI, R115 the Shannon based Coast Guard helicopter, and Doolin Coast Guard unit. Less than one hour after the alert was raised R115 located the casualties. They were then recovered by Galway Bay lifeboat who confirmed that casualties were safe and well.

Coast Guard Watch officers on duty in Valentia were highly complementary of the two local Lifeguards highlighting their vigilance, timeliness of their report and for piecing together information on the casualties. Galway Bay RNLI were also complimented for the successful rescue.

Published in Coastguard
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The Irish Coast Guard co-ordinated a very successful Marine Search and Rescue demonstration yesterday, Saturday 16th July. As Afloat.ie reported previously, the exercise in Moville Co Donegal involved some of Ireland’s principal Search and Rescue resources. Participants included Donegal based volunteer Coast Guard units, the Sligo based Coast Guard Rescue Helicopter, Naval ship LÉ Orla, Air Corps Casa, RNLI’s new Shannon Class All Weather Lifeboat, Bord Iascaigh Mhara, UK Maritime Coastguard Agency, Irish Water Safety, Mountain Rescue Ireland and the Civil Defence.
Speaking after the event Gerard O’Flynn, the Coast Guard’s Search and Rescue Operations Manager said: ‘This exercise afforded the public a wonderful opportunity to see Ireland’s search and rescue resources conducting a series a realistic but challenging tasks, more importantly it enabled the Coast Guard to exercise interoperability between the different assets.”
The event included a series of water based safety demonstrations.
“Prevention and adherence to basic safety is the key element in minimising loss of life at sea and on our waterways”, concluded SARs Manager Gerard O’Flynn.
The main events:
Mud rescue demonstration by nearby members of the Maritime Coastguard Agency, Bay Field in the low water river bed.
The Donegal Mountain Rescue team along with their colleagues in the Civil Defence also at Bay Field displayed their new Drone
Greencastle Coast Guard unit executed a number of cliff rescue displays.
Rescue 115, the Sligo based rescue helicopter along with the crew of LÉ Orla completed a number of winching exercise. From the deck of LÉ Orla and a “wet” lift.
The Air Corps Casa demonstrated the use of airborne life rafts as well as conducting communications exercises with air and surface resources.
Over the course of the day, Volunteer Coast Guard units from Donegal, Mulroy, Killybegs, Greencastle and Bunbeg completed number of rescue manoeuvres including - man over board, swimmer/paddle board in difficult, fishing vessel on fire.

Published in Coastguard
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The Irish Coast Guard, the RNLI and Irish Water Safety advise caution to those engaged in recreational activities in or near water during the current spell of good weather and throughout the summer months.

There has been a significant rise in maritime recreational incidents over the weekend due to the good weather.

At this time of the year as the secondary school term comes to a close and the fine weather is upon us, members of the public are urged to take care when engaging in aquatic activities.

Chief of Operations, Coast Guard Eugene Clonan, said “there has been a noticeable increase in the number of calls over the weekend. Sunday was particularly busy with twenty three calls in response to maritime recreational incidents and he urged members of the public, particularly younger people to exercise caution in and around the water”.

Gareth Morrison RNLI Lifesaving Delivery Manager said, ‘As the weather improves we notice an increase in callouts for our lifeboats. Many of these incidents relate to leisure activities where a nice day out has unfortunately ended in a call for help. Seeking some simple advice before you take to the water or coastline could make all the difference. Our volunteer lifeboat crews are always on call but when every second counts in an emergency you need to be prepared. The RNLI urges everyone to Respect the Water.’

Roger Sweeney, Deputy CEO of Irish Water Safety said that “Ireland averages eleven drownings every month and that constant responsible child supervision will help prevent further tragedies. Parents should check that their local primary school is teaching Irish Water Safety’s classroom based curriculum that instils good habits for a safe summer ahead.”

• The temperature of the sea, lakes, canals and inland water ways is still pretty cold and waters users should exercise caution and be aware of cold water shock and hypothermia.

• Swim with others, never alone, close and parallel to shore.

• If walking on the beach be careful that you are not cut off by the tide. Seek local information about stranding risks.

• Members of the public using recreational craft at the beginning of the season should check the seaworthiness of their craft before launching, particularly engines.

• When departing check the weather forecast, tell someone where you are going and when expected back and wear a life jacket when going afloat.

• For further information on safety on the water check www.safetyonthewater.ie.

• If you see someone in difficulty in the sea, on the shore, cliffs, lakes or rivers dial 999/112 and ask for the Coast Guard.

Published in Marine Warning

Just after midnight (16 February) the UK Coastguard received a Mayday emergency call from a yacht which was in difficulties and had run aground near Skerryvore Light, near the Isle of Tiree off the west coast of Scotland. There was one man on board with no reported injuries.

A Mayday relay was broadcast by the Coastguard requesting assistance and a commercial cable laying vessel made its way to the area and provided some shelter from the weather.

The Islay RNLI all-weather lifeboat was sent and has been on scene attempting to secure a line to the vessel since 3:30am. Barra RNLI Lifeboat has also been sent to assist.

The UK Coastguard search and rescue helicopter based at Prestwick successfully airlifted the yachtsman to safety just after midday. He does not require any medical attention.

UK Coastguard Maritime Operations Controller, Angus MacIver said: 'The winds in the area were gusting at severe gale force with extremely rough seas which created a very testing environment in which this rescue could be carried out. The yachtsman is now being airlifted ashore and the RNLI lifeboats are returning to base.'

Published in Coastguard
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