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The Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Paschal Donohoe TD, today marked the commemoration of 100 years of services at the Irish Coast Guard Valentia Marine Rescue Sub-Centre (MRSC). A plaque unveiled by Minister Donohoe pays tribute to all the members of staff, both past and present, who have served in the centre over the past 100 years.

The Valentia MRSC has been in operation since 1914 and covers the South West and Western Atlantic coastal area. It has served as the first point of contact for the liners and cross Atlantic vessels transiting to and from Europe to America.

Speaking at the event, Minister Donohoe said: 'I am very happy to have an opportunity to pay tribute to all those who have served here in the past and also to those who continue to serve at Valentia Coast Guard, most of whom have been here for many years'.

"When I look around at this state-of-the-art Coast Guard coordination centre at Wireless Point, it is difficult to imagine that it was from this very location on the 7th May 1915 that some of the last messages to the ocean liner Lusitania were transmitted using only Morse Code. Through two world wars the station here continued to operate serving the maritime sector and providing a lifeline and communications link to shore. Looking over the records of the incidents handled here, there have been many notable incidents over the years.

"Our seas and inland waterways can bring tragedy as well as joy and we would like to remember here all those who have lost their lives in an around our coast and we acknowledge the sadness of that loss for their families and friends.

"The last two years have seen the busiest period in many years for the Coast Guard in terms of emergency responses as the figure for coordinated incidents reached 2,628, with the centre here in Valentia coordinating some 940 of these incidents.

"So it is in recognition of all these efforts and many others down through the years, that we have gathered here over 100 years after services commenced, to acknowledge the long and proud history of the station here in Valentia".

Published in Coastguard

At 03.41 this morning (Thursday 5 August 2010) Fenit RNLI lifeboat crew were requested to launch by Valentia Coast Guard to go to the assistance of a woman injured on the Great Blasket Island.  The woman had fallen and sustained injuries to her leg and the Fenit RNLI all weather lifeboat was launched to recover her from the island and bring her ashore to Dingle to a waiting ambulance.

With no slipway or pier on the island and extremely shallow water at the landing point, the only way for the lifeboat crew to access the island was by launching the XP boat (a small inflatable boat carried onboard the lifeboat)

Four crew members went onto the island and made their way to the woman's house which was almost half a mile in and about 600 feet above sea level. The task was made more difficult due to the fact that the ground was extremely wet and slippery.

The woman was placed on a stretcher and carried back down the hill by the RNLI Fenit Lifeboat crew members. The stretcher was then placed across the xp boat and transferred to the lifeboat by the crew.

Commenting on the incident JP Brick of Fenit RNLI said, " This was a challenging callout for the lifeboat crew.  The remote location made it difficult to access the island.  The lifeboat crew needed to take a stretcher with them for the casualty and then return down the slippery terrain to the waiting XP boat.  From there they travelled out to the waiting lifeboat and transferred the casualty onboard.  This is where lifeboat crew training and equipment comes to the fore and the medivac was completed successfully."

On medical advice the casualty was brought to Dingle Marina where she was collected by ambulance and transferred to Tralee General Hospital

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Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Ferry & Car Ferry News The ferry industry on the Irish Sea, is just like any other sector of the shipping industry, in that it is made up of a myriad of ship operators, owners, managers, charterers all contributing to providing a network of routes carried out by a variety of ships designed for different albeit similar purposes.

All this ferry activity involves conventional ferry tonnage, 'ro-pax', where the vessel's primary design is to carry more freight capacity rather than passengers. This is in some cases though, is in complete variance to the fast ferry craft where they carry many more passengers and charging a premium.

In reporting the ferry scene, we examine the constantly changing trends of this sector, as rival ferry operators are competing in an intensive environment, battling out for market share following the fallout of the economic crisis. All this has consequences some immediately felt, while at times, the effects can be drawn out over time, leading to the expense of others, through reduced competition or takeover or even face complete removal from the marketplace, as witnessed in recent years.

Arising from these challenging times, there are of course winners and losers, as exemplified in the trend to run high-speed ferry craft only during the peak-season summer months and on shorter distance routes. In addition, where fastcraft had once dominated the ferry scene, during the heady days from the mid-90's onwards, they have been replaced by recent newcomers in the form of the 'fast ferry' and with increased levels of luxury, yet seeming to form as a cost-effective alternative.

Irish Sea Ferry Routes

Irrespective of the type of vessel deployed on Irish Sea routes (between 2-9 hours), it is the ferry companies that keep the wheels of industry moving as freight vehicles literally (roll-on and roll-off) ships coupled with motoring tourists and the humble 'foot' passenger transported 363 days a year.

As such the exclusive freight-only operators provide important trading routes between Ireland and the UK, where the freight haulage customer is 'king' to generating year-round revenue to the ferry operator. However, custom built tonnage entering service in recent years has exceeded the level of capacity of the Irish Sea in certain quarters of the freight market.

A prime example of the necessity for trade in which we consumers often expect daily, though arguably question how it reached our shores, is the delivery of just in time perishable products to fill our supermarket shelves.

A visual manifestation of this is the arrival every morning and evening into our main ports, where a combination of ferries, ro-pax vessels and fast-craft all descend at the same time. In essence this a marine version to our road-based rush hour traffic going in and out along the commuter belts.

Across the Celtic Sea, the ferry scene coverage is also about those overnight direct ferry routes from Ireland connecting the north-western French ports in Brittany and Normandy.

Due to the seasonality of these routes to Europe, the ferry scene may be in the majority running between February to November, however by no means does this lessen operator competition.

Noting there have been plans over the years to run a direct Irish –Iberian ferry service, which would open up existing and develop new freight markets. Should a direct service open, it would bring new opportunities also for holidaymakers, where Spain is the most visited country in the EU visited by Irish holidaymakers ... heading for the sun!