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Displaying items by tag: Coastguard

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Water safety advice from the Irish Coast Guard and RNLI:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more in The Times here

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published in Coastguard

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mud rescue training in Strangford LoughMud rescue training in Strangford Lough

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

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

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

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

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

Irish Coast Guard volunteer Bernard Lucas has called for a re-investigation into the cause of his wife Caitriona’s death off the Clare coast in 2016.

In an interview with today’s Sunday Independent, Mr Lucas says he finds as “shocking” the criticisms of the Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) in a report commissioned by maritime lawyer Michael Kingston.

The report by Capt Neil Forde of Marine Hazard Ltd said the MCIB was “not fit for purpose”.

It was submitted by Mr Michael Kingston to several Oireachtas committees, including the Transport and Communications Network committee which sat on Friday last.

Ms Lucas (41), a librarian, mother of two, and advanced coxswain, had offered to help out the neighbouring Irish Coast Guard Kilkee unit in a search for a missing man on September 12th, 2016.

She hadn’t expected to go to sea, but the unit was short a crew member. She died after the Kilkee rigid inflatable boat (Rib) capsized in a shallow surf zone. Two other crew members survived.

Last summer, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) decided that no criminal charges should be brought in relation to the incident after a report was forwarded to it by the Health and Safety Authority (HSA).

The unpublished HSA report was one of two separate investigations. The second report by the Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) proved so contentious that it had to be published in two parts, and the responses to the draft were longer than the report itself.

In a robust response, the Irish Coast Guard described the MCIB report as “flawed” and “misleading”, and argued that it was a “significant leap” to draw wider conclusions about safety standards based on one “tragic accident”.

In his submission to the draft report, Bernard Lucas queried why the investigation did not address failure to find personal locator beacons and other equipment issues, including the loss of helmets by three crew and the failure of lifejackets to inflate.

A postmortem identified a trauma to the side of Ms Lucas’s head at a point where it should have been protected by her helmet.

Last summer, the MCIB’s authority was questioned in a European Court of Justice judgment which found it is not independent as its board included the Department of Transport secretary-general, or his or her deputy, and the Marine Survey Office (MSO) chief surveyor. These two post holders have recently stood down.

The report commissioned by Mr Kingston claims the MCIB failed to investigate certain incidents which it has a statutory duty to inquire about, it questions its resources and independence.

It also says the MCIB inquiry into Caitriona Lucas’s death is “riddled with inaccuracies” – starting with the wrong location for the incident.

These inaccuracies were not corrected, even when highlighted in responses to the draft report, because MCIB investigators” simply have not had the resources required to do the job properly”, Mr Kingston told the Oireachtas Transport and Communications Networks committee hearing on Friday.

Capt Forde’s analysis also questions why the MCIB did not also investigate a previous incident which occurred in similar circumstances to that of Ms Lucas’s death, where an Irish Coast Guard Dingle unit RIB capsized in a surf zone off Inch, Co Kerry in August 2014.

The MCIB said in response that it does not comment on published reports issued on the conclusion of investigations, and said it was not the purpose of an investigation to attribute blame or fault – but to avoid other casualties occurring.

“Any person may report a marine accident to the MCIB directly and details are on the website,”it said in response to questions about its failure to follow up on the Dingle incident.

“All on-going investigations are noted on the website and members of the public may submit evidence about an investigation at any time should they so wish,” it said.

“The board may also re open investigations where it receives evidence to warrant that course of action,” it said, but it was “not in receipt of any requests to re-open any investigation, nor is it in receipt of any objections by any interested parties to the recommendations it has made”.

“The members of the MCIB recognise that some investigations arise from very tragic circumstances and that any investigation may cause added distress,” it said.

Read more on the Sunday Independent here

Published in Coastguard

The search for a missing fishing vessel with three people on board continues off the coast of North Wales.

HM Coastguard has been co-ordinating an extensive search to find the vessel since just after 10 am today (28 January) after it failed to return when it was expected.

Rhyl, Bangor and Llandudno Coastguard Rescue Teams have been sent along with RNLI lifeboats from Rhyl, Llandudno, Conwy and Beaumaris.

The HM Coastguard search and rescue helicopter from Caernarfon and a fixed-wing Coastguard aircraft have also been assisting with the search.

North Wales Police are also involved and broadcasts have been made to alert vessels in the nearby area. Despite the extensive search to find the vessel and its crew, nothing has been found so far.

Duty Controller for HM Coastguard Rob Priestley said: “We are continuing to search a wide area to try and find this vessel with all the assets we have at our disposal. We’re also asking other vessels in the area to keep a look out for anything that might also assist the search.”

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Dublin Bay

Dublin Bay on the east coast of Ireland stretches over seven kilometres, from Howth Head on its northern tip to Dalkey Island in the south. It's a place most Dubliners simply take for granted, and one of the capital's least visited places. But there's more going on out there than you'd imagine.

The biggest boating centre is at Dun Laoghaire Harbour on the Bay's south shore that is home to over 1,500 pleasure craft, four waterfront yacht clubs and Ireland's largest marina.

The bay is rather shallow with many sandbanks and rocky outcrops, and was notorious in the past for shipwrecks, especially when the wind was from the east. Until modern times, many ships and their passengers were lost along the treacherous coastline from Howth to Dun Laoghaire, less than a kilometre from shore.

The Bay is a C-shaped inlet of the Irish Sea and is about 10 kilometres wide along its north-south base, and 7 km in length to its apex at the centre of the city of Dublin; stretching from Howth Head in the north to Dalkey Point in the south. North Bull Island is situated in the northwest part of the bay, where one of two major inshore sandbanks lie, and features a 5 km long sandy beach, Dollymount Strand, fronting an internationally recognised wildfowl reserve. Many of the rivers of Dublin reach the Irish Sea at Dublin Bay: the River Liffey, with the River Dodder flow received less than 1 km inland, River Tolka, and various smaller rivers and streams.

Dublin Bay FAQs

There are approximately ten beaches and bathing spots around Dublin Bay: Dollymount Strand; Forty Foot Bathing Place; Half Moon bathing spot; Merrion Strand; Bull Wall; Sandycove Beach; Sandymount Strand; Seapoint; Shelley Banks; Sutton, Burrow Beach

There are slipways on the north side of Dublin Bay at Clontarf, Sutton and on the southside at Dun Laoghaire Harbour, and in Dalkey at Coliemore and Bulloch Harbours.

Dublin Bay is administered by a number of Government Departments, three local authorities and several statutory agencies. Dublin Port Company is in charge of navigation on the Bay.

Dublin Bay is approximately 70 sq kilometres or 7,000 hectares. The Bay is about 10 kilometres wide along its north-south base, and seven km in length east-west to its peak at the centre of the city of Dublin; stretching from Howth Head in the north to Dalkey Point in the south.

Dun Laoghaire Harbour on the southside of the Bay has an East and West Pier, each one kilometre long; this is one of the largest human-made harbours in the world. There also piers or walls at the entrance to the River Liffey at Dublin city known as the Great North and South Walls. Other harbours on the Bay include Bulloch Harbour and Coliemore Harbours both at Dalkey.

There are two marinas on Dublin Bay. Ireland's largest marina with over 800 berths is on the southern shore at Dun Laoghaire Harbour. The other is at Poolbeg Yacht and Boat Club on the River Liffey close to Dublin City.

Car and passenger Ferries operate from Dublin Port to the UK, Isle of Man and France. A passenger ferry operates from Dun Laoghaire Harbour to Howth as well as providing tourist voyages around the bay.

Dublin Bay has two Islands. Bull Island at Clontarf and Dalkey Island on the southern shore of the Bay.

The River Liffey flows through Dublin city and into the Bay. Its tributaries include the River Dodder, the River Poddle and the River Camac.

Dollymount, Burrow and Seapoint beaches

Approximately 1,500 boats from small dinghies to motorboats to ocean-going yachts. The vast majority, over 1,000, are moored at Dun Laoghaire Harbour which is Ireland's boating capital.

In 1981, UNESCO recognised the importance of Dublin Bay by designating North Bull Island as a Biosphere because of its rare and internationally important habitats and species of wildlife. To support sustainable development, UNESCO’s concept of a Biosphere has evolved to include not just areas of ecological value but also the areas around them and the communities that live and work within these areas. There have since been additional international and national designations, covering much of Dublin Bay, to ensure the protection of its water quality and biodiversity. To fulfil these broader management aims for the ecosystem, the Biosphere was expanded in 2015. The Biosphere now covers Dublin Bay, reflecting its significant environmental, economic, cultural and tourism importance, and extends to over 300km² to include the bay, the shore and nearby residential areas.

On the Southside at Dun Laoghaire, there is the National Yacht Club, Royal St. George Yacht Club, Royal Irish Yacht Club and Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club as well as Dublin Bay Sailing Club. In the city centre, there is Poolbeg Yacht and Boat Club. On the Northside of Dublin, there is Clontarf Yacht and Boat Club and Sutton Dinghy Club. While not on Dublin Bay, Howth Yacht Club is the major north Dublin Sailing centre.

© Afloat 2020