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Search and rescue air crew and staff at the Irish Coast Guard’s four helicopter bases are concerned about their future employment when Bristow takes over the new contract.

As The Sunday Independent reports, staff in Dublin, Waterford, Shannon and Sligo are seeking assurances from the Department of Transport that employment will be transferred when the Bristow group takes over in 2025.

Last week, Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan confirmed that Bristow Ireland Ltd is the preferred bidder for the next ten-year search and rescue (SAR) contract, costing 670 million euro ex VAT.

Over 140 people have been employed by CHC Ireland at the four bases over the past 20 years of the current contract, which cost 60 million euro annually.

Bristow Ireland Ltd is a subsidiary of the Bristow group which runs search and rescue services for Britain, the Netherlands and the Falkland Islands.

For the first time, provision of a fixed wing aircraft is also included in the Irish contract, which provides for the Air Corps to take over this element of the service after five years, according to Ryan.

Senator Gerard Craughwell, who has welcomed the awarding of the contract to Bristow, has called on the company to make a statement that it will “start considering a transfer of employment”.

Forsa, which represents air crew, said it would prefer not to comment at this stage, while trade union Unite regional officer Rob Kelly said it was “confident that the TUPE process will proceed smoothly, and Unite members look forward to continuing to provide this vital service".

CHC Ireland lost four of its air crew when the Dublin-based Sikorsky S-92 crashed at Blackrock island in north Mayo on March 14th, 2017, claiming the lives of Capt Dara Fitzpatrick, Capt Mark Duffy, and winch crew Ciarán Smith and Paul Ormsby.

The Department of Transport said that “it is expected that as part of their staffing strategy, the new contractor will undertake a consultation and engagement process with the employees of the current contractor, and the recognised trade unions”.

“As the procurement process has now entered the required legal “standstill period”, the department is not in a position to comment further,” a spokesperson said.

Bristow Ireland said “looks forward to integrating our significant global experience and capabilities into this critical public service” and would work with the department.

Read more in The Sunday Independent here

Published in Coastguard
Tagged under
CHC Helicopter rescue crews have been recognised for their brave, sustained, professional and outstanding service to maritime Search and Rescue (SAR) in Ireland.

One of the world's leading helicopter services company, CHC has built up an unparalleled reputation for excellence in SAR aviation over 20 years of operations for the Irish Coast Guard.

The tireless efforts of the team, who provide a 24-hour a day service from their Shannon base, has seen them awarded a special Directors Award for Outstanding Service to maritime search and rescue in Ireland.

CHC_Ireland_presentation

Top Brass: (from left to right) Paul Truss, Eamonn O'Broin, Chris Reynolds and Liam Flynn

The award recognises the personal commitment of all the crews, engineers and staff that have, over a period of two decades from 1991 to 2011, significantly enhanced Ireland's ability to affect a successful rescue and saved many lives.

It was accepted by Shannon Chief Pilot Captain Liam Flynn, Chief Crewman Eamonn O'Broin and Base Manager Paul Truss. Director of the Irish Coast Guard, Chris Reynolds, presented the award at a screening of a television documentary about the unit in Ennis.

The programme, called Rescue 115, will be aired on Irish channel RTE and will give people the opportunity to get an intimate view of what the crew does.

Mark Kelly, managing director of CHC in Ireland, said: "I would like to extend my heart felt congratulations to each and every member of the Shannon team past and present on the Directors Award in recognition of outstanding service to the State.

"The Directors Award is a very prestigious award which has only been given eight previous times.

"In presenting the award at the premiere of Rescue 115, Chris Reynolds spoke of the outstanding service given by the Shannon base and its staff to the State over the last twenty years, during which time it has carried out 3,732 missions.

"It is a well deserved recognition of two decades of tremendous courage, loyalty and dedication to providing a world class search and rescue service."

Earlier this year, a CHC SAR crew was recognised with a Best of Irish award for their role in successfully recovering the pilot of a light aircraft which crashed in the Irish Sea.

CHC Helicopter is the world's largest offshore helicopter operator and provides civilian search and rescue services in Ireland, the UK, Norway and Australia.


Published in Coastguard
The union representing coastguard staff in the UK has expressed its fears over the loss of air rescue services when a number of helicopters are transferred to Ireland next year.
Under CHC's €500m contract to provide search and rescue services for the Irish Coast Guard, four helicopters will be withdrawn from England and Scotland for redeployment in Ireland.
However, HeraldScotland reports that the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) has are no plans to replace these helicopters, which currently service Scotland's Isle of Lewis and Shetland Islands, as well as the Solent and Portland in England.
The recent collapse of the privatisation deal for UK search and rescue services has meant there is no new operator lined up to replace CHC.
Jeremy Gautrey of the PCS union said that the situation "has now potentially left the coastguard service stranded without the guarantee that it will have sufficient helicopters to carry out search-and-rescue operations when the current helicopters retire."
HeraldScotland has more on the story HERE.

The union representing coastguard staff in the UK has expressed its fears over the loss of air rescue services when a number of helicopters are transferred to Ireland next year.

Under CHC's €500m contract to provide search and rescue services for the Irish Coast Guard, four helicopters will be withdrawn from England and Scotland for redeployment in Ireland.

However, HeraldScotland reports that the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) has no plans to replace these helicopters, which separately service Scotland's Isle of Lewis and Shetland Islands as well as the Solent and Portland in England.

The recent collapse of the privatisation deal for UK search and rescue services has meant there is no new operator lined up to replace CHC.

Jeremy Gautrey of the PCS union said that the situation "has now potentially left the coastguard service stranded without the guarantee that it will have sufficient helicopters to carry out search-and-rescue operations when the current helicopters retire."

HeraldScotland has more on the story HERE.

Published in Coastguard
The Canadian company that provides search and rescue helicopter services for the Coast Guard has reported a €1.5 million operating loss in the 2009-2010 fiscal year, according to the Irish Independent.
CHC Ireland, the local division of the world's largest helicopter services company, operates search and rescue services out of Dublin, Shannon, Waterford and Sligo.
Directors of the firm, which employs more than 100 nationwide, noted that the loss - coming after a €3.2 million loss in the previous financial year - was reduced due to the closure of its Cork base and lower aircraft leasing costs.
Last year the Government awarded CHC a new 10-year contract worth €500 million to operate search and rescue services, despite proposals from the Air Corps that it could provide the same service at a much lower rate.
The Independent reported recently that one of the world's top helicopter makers has denied claims made by the Coast Guard that the Air Corps does not have the equipment to undertake search and rescue operations.
AgustaWestland, which supplies the main helicopter used by the Air Corps, disputed allegations by Coast Guard director Chris Reynolds that the AW139 had not earned a "good reputation" elsewhere.

The Canadian company that provides search and rescue helicopter services for the Coast Guard has reported a €1.5 million operating loss in the 2009-2010 fiscal year, according to the Irish Independent.

CHC Ireland, the local division of the world's largest helicopter services company, operates search and rescue services out of Dublin, Shannon, Waterford and Sligo.

Directors of the firm, which employs more than 100 nationwide, noted that the loss - coming after a €3.2 million loss in the previous financial year - was reduced due to the closure of its Cork base and lower aircraft leasing costs. 

Last year the Government awarded CHC a new 10-year contract worth €500 million to operate search and rescue services, despite proposals from the Air Corps that it could provide the same service at a much lower rate.

The Irish Independent reported recently that one of the world's top helicopter makers has denied claims made by the Coast Guard that the Air Corps does not have the equipment to undertake search and rescue operations. 

AgustaWestland, which supplies the main helicopter used by the Air Corps, disputed allegations by Coast Guard director Chris Reynolds that the AW139 had not earned a "good reputation" elsewhere.

Published in Coastguard

Scottish Coastguard rescue helicopter based in Stornoway has recorded its busiest ever year after clocking up in excess of 200 callouts in 2010.

It is the first time the rescue helicopter team has reached the milestone figure for missions in any one year, traditionally responding to an average of 136 callouts between January 1 and December 31. Since the introduction of the new technology S92 helicopters in 2007 however this has risen to an average of 190.

Leading search and rescue (SAR) service provider CHC Helicopter has operated the service for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency in the UK since 2007 from four bases at Stornoway, Sumburgh, Lee on Solent and Portland. Through its membership of the Soteria consortium, it has been identified as the preferred bidder on the UK SAR-H program, a 25-year contract to provide helicopter-based SAR services from 12 bases throughout the UK.

Ian McLuskie, UK SAR Business Unit Leader at CHC said: "The past three years have been the busiest we've ever had in terms of callouts and this is due to the capability of the S92 aircraft which are able to fly faster and further than those previously in use.

"This increased operating range and speed allows us to get to locations quicker, the overall result is a reduction in the time taken to rescue and get medical aid to those in need. This has allowed the unit to be called out to a greater number of jobs throughout the year, bringing the search and rescue service to a greater number of people and helping to save many more lives."

The Stornoway unit conducted its 200th mission on December 10th when rescue helicopter R100 was scrambled to evacuate a 57-year-old female who required urgent hospital treatment after experiencing breathing difficulties. The patient was transferred to Raigmore Hospital in Inverness.

Published in Coastguard
CHC Helicopter has been awarded a 10-year, €500 million contract to provide Search and Rescue services on behalf of the Irish Coast Guard. Ireland's Minister for Transport, Noel Dempsey, will join senior representatives from the Irish Coast Guard and CHC Ireland to officially sign the contract later today.

The contract, will provide SAR services from bases at Waterford, Dublin, Shannon and Sligo from 2012 onwards. CHC already provides SAR services from these bases but the new contract will see the existing fleet of S-61N aircraft replaced with newer Sikorsky S-92A helicopters that are custom fitted for SAR work.

Irish Coast Guard Director Chris Reynolds said, "The Irish Coast Guard provides a diverse range of maritime and land-based SAR activities, ranging from national emergency situations such as the recent flooding seen in Ireland last winter to medevac from our Islands, mountains, fishing vessels and incidents involving leisure activity."

"It is essential we have the right stepped increase in capabilities going forward for the next decade. We are very confident in selecting CHC Helicopter that our decision will continue to deliver excellence, providing the most efficient and effective SAR service for Ireland."

The Irish contract cements CHC Helicopter's position as a world leader in provision of civilian SAR services. In addition to the service already provided in Ireland, CHC currently provides SAR coverage in Australia and the UK, and through its membership in the Soteria consortium, has been identified as the preferred bidder on the UK SAR-H program, a 25-year contract to provide helicopter-based SAR services from 12 bases throughout the UK.

"CHC is internationally recognised as a provider of effective SAR solutions to customers worldwide. In today's very challenging environment, we offer the most efficient, reliable and effective services using industry leading technology," said Tilmann Gabriel, chairman of CHC Ireland and president of CHC Helicopter's European Operations.

Mark Kelly, Managing Director of CHC Ireland, added that Irish citizens could now expect to see many positive changes arise.

"Over the next decade this contract will offer a number of service improvements including the ability to deliver a paramedic to any SAR incident within an hour anywhere on our coastline, ensuring much faster treatment of casualties," he said.

CHC is the world's largest operator of the Sikorsky S-92 helicopter that has a long and distinguished pedigree in SAR operations. There are currently more than 100 S-92 helicopters in operation around the world with a fleet total approaching 250,000 flight-hours.

The state-of-the-art twin-engine aircraft will be specially equipped for SAR operations and capable of flying faster and farther than aircraft currently in use. As well as longer range and improved cruising speeds, the S-92s will be equipped with enhanced rescue mission technology including infra-red and low light cameras, a Nightsun searchlight, a satellite communications system featuring a Flight Following tracking facility, and high speed dual hoists.


Published in Coastguard

Port of Cork Information

The Port of Cork is the key seaport in the south of Ireland and is one of only two Irish ports which service the requirements of all six shipping modes i.e., Lift-on Lift-off, Roll-on Roll-off, Liquid Bulk, Dry Bulk, Break Bulk and Cruise. Due to its favourable location on the south coast of Ireland and its modern deep-water facilities, the Port of Cork is ideally positioned for additional European trading as well as for yet unexploited direct deep-sea shipping services.

The Port of Cork is investing €80 million in a container terminal development in Ringaskiddy. The Cork Container Terminal will initially offer a 360-metre quay with 13-metre depth alongside and will enable larger ships to berth in the port. The development also includes the construction of a 13.5-hectare terminal and associated buildings as well as two ship to shore gantry cranes and container handling equipment.

The development of new container handling facilities at Ringaskiddy was identified in the Port of Cork’s Strategic Development Plan in 2010. It will accommodate current and future container shipping which can be serviced by modern and efficient cargo handling equipment with innovative terminal operating and vehicle booking systems. The Port of Cork anticipates that Cork Container Terminal will be operational in 2020.

The Port of Cork is the key seaport in the south of Ireland and is one of just two Irish ports which service the requirements of all shipping modes.

The Port of Cork also controls Bantry Bay Port Company and employs 150 people across all locations.

A European Designated Core Port and a Tier 1 Port of National Significance, Port of Cork’s reputation for quality service, including prompt and efficient vessel turnaround as well as the company’s investment in future growth, ensures its position as a vital link in the global supply chain.

The port has made impressive strides in recent decades, most recently with the construction of the new €80m Cork Container Terminal in Ringaskiddy which will facilitate the natural progression of the move from a river port to a deepwater port in order to future proof the Port
of Cork. This state-of-the-art terminal which will open in 2020 will be capable of berthing the largest container ships currently calling to Ireland.

The Port of Cork Company is a commercial semi-state company responsible for the commercial running of the harbour as well as responsibility for navigation and berthage in the port.  The Port is the main port serving the South of Ireland, County Cork and Cork City. 

Types of Shipping Using Port of Cork

The Port offers all six shipping modes from Lift-on Lift-off, Roll-on Roll-off, Liquid Bulk, Dry Bulk, Break Bulk and Cruise liner traffic.

Port of Cork Growth

The port has made impressive strides in recent decades. Since 2000, the Port of Cork has invested €72 million in improving Port infrastructure and facilities. Due to its favourable location and its modern deepwater facilities, the Port is ideally positioned for additional European trading as well as for yet unexploited direct deep-sea shipping services. A well-developed road infrastructure eases the flow of traffic from and to the port. The Port of Cork’s growing reputation for quality service, including prompt and efficient vessel turnaround, ensures its position as a vital link in the global supply chain. The Port of Cork Company turnover in 2018 amounted to €35.4 million, an increase of €3.9 million from €31.5 million in 2017. The combined traffic of both the Ports of Cork and Bantry increased to 10.66 million tonnes in 2018 up from 10.3 million tonnes in 2017.

History of Port of Cork

Famous at the last port of call of the Titanic, these medieval navigation and port facilities of the city and harbour were historically managed by the Cork Harbour Commissioners. Founded in 1814, the Cork Harbour Commissioners moved to the Custom House in 1904.  Following the implementation of the 1996 Harbours Act, by March 1997 all assets of the Commissioners were transferred to the Port of Cork Company.

Commercial Traffic at Port of Cork

Vessels up to 90,000 tonnes deadweight (DWT) are capable of coming through entrance to Cork Harbour. As the shipping channels get shallower the farther inland one travels, access becomes constricted, and only vessels up to 60,000 DWT can sail above Cobh. The Port of Cork provides pilotage and towage facilities for vessels entering Cork Harbour. All vessels accessing the quays in Cork City must be piloted and all vessels exceeding 130 metres in length must be piloted once they pass within 2.5 nautical miles (4.6 km) of the harbour entrance.

Berthing Facilities in Cork Harbour

The Port of Cork has berthing facilities at Cork City, Tivoli, Cobh and Ringaskiddy. The facilities in Cork City are primarily used for grain and oil transport. Tivoli provides container handling, facilities for oil, livestock and ore and a roll on-roll off (Ro-Ro) ramp. Prior to the opening of Ringaskiddy Ferry Port, car ferries sailed from here; now, the Ro-Ro ramp is used by companies importing cars into Ireland. In addition to the ferry terminal, Ringaskiddy has a deep water port.

Port of Cork Development Plans

2020 will be a significant year for the Port of Cork as it prepares to complete and open the €86 million Cork Container Terminal development in Ringaskiddy.

Once operational the new terminal will enable the port to handle up to 450,000 TEU per annum. Port of Cork already possess significant natural depth in Cork harbour, and the work in Ringaskiddy Port will enable the Port of Cork to accommodate vessels of 5500 to 6000 TEU, which will provide a great deal of additional potential for increasing container traffic.

It follows a previous plan hatched in 2006 as the port operated at full capacity the Port drew up plans for a new container facility at Ringaskiddy. This was the subject of major objections and after an Oral Planning Hearing was held in 2008 the Irish planning board Bord Pleanala rejected the plan due to inadequate rail and road links at the location.  

Further notable sustainability projects also include:

  • The Port of Cork have invested in 2 x STS cranes – Type single lift, Model P (148) L, (WS) Super. These cranes contain the most modern and energy-efficient control and monitoring systems currently available on the market and include an LED floodlight system equipped with software to facilitate remote diagnostics, a Crane Management System (CMS) and an energy chain supply on both cranes replacing the previous preferred festoon cabling installation.
  • The Port of Cork has installed High Mast Lighting Voltage Control Units at its two main cargo handling locations – Tivoli Industrial & Dock Estate and Ringaskiddy Deep-water & Ferry Terminals. This investment has led to more efficient energy use and reduced risk of light pollution. The lights can also be controlled remotely.
  • The Port of Cork’s largest electrical consumer at Tivoli Container Terminal is the handling and storage of refrigerated containers. Local data loggers were used to assess energy consumption. This provided timely intervention regarding Power Factor Correction Bank efficiency on our STS (Ship to Shore) Cranes and Substations, allowing for reduced mains demand and reducing wattless energy losses along with excess charges. The information gathered has helped us to design and build a reefer storage facility with energy management and remote monitoring included.

Bantry Port

In 2017 Bantry Bay Port Company completed a significant investment of €8.5 million in the Bantry Inner Harbour development. The development consisted of a leisure marina, widening of the town pier, dredging of the inner harbour and creation of a foreshore amenity space.

Port of Cork Cruise Liner Traffic

2019 was a record cruise season for the Port of Cork with 100 cruise liners visiting. In total over 243,000 passengers and crew visited the region with many passengers visiting Cork for the first time.

Also in 2019, the Port of Cork's Cruise line berth in Cobh was recognised as one of the best cruise destinations in the world, winning in the Top-Rated British Isles & Western Europe Cruise Destination category. 

There has been an increase in cruise ship visits to Cork Harbour in the early 21st century, with 53 such ships visiting the port in 2011, increasing to approximately 100 cruise ship visits by 2019.

These cruise ships berth at the Port of Cork's deepwater quay in Cobh, which is Ireland's only dedicated berth for cruise ships.

Passenger Ferries

Operating since the late 1970s, Brittany Ferries runs a ferry service to Roscoff in France. This operates between April and November from the Ro-Ro facilities at Ringaskiddy. Previous ferry services ran to Swansea in Wales and Santander in Spain. The former, the Swansea Cork ferry, ran initially between 1987 and 2006 and also briefly between 2010 and 2012.

The latter, a Brittany Ferries Cork–Santander service, started in 2018 but was cancelled in early 2020.

Marine Leisure

The Port of Cork has a strategy that aims to promote the harbour also as a leisure amenity. Cork’s superb natural harbour is a great place to enjoy all types of marine leisure pursuits. With lots of sailing and rowing clubs dotted throughout the harbour, excellent fishing and picturesque harbour-side paths for walking, running or cycling, there is something for everyone to enjoy in and around Cork harbour. The Port is actively involved with the promotion of Cork Harbour's annual Festival. The oldest sailing club in the world, founded in 1720, is the Royal Cork Yacht Club is located at Crosshaven in the harbour, proof positive, says the Port, that the people of Cork, and its visitors, have been enjoying this vast natural leisure resource for centuries. 

Port of Cork Executives

  • Chairman: John Mullins
  • Chief Executive: Brendan Keating
  • Secretary/Chief Finance Officer: Donal Crowley
  • Harbour Master and Chief Operations Officer: Capt. Paul O'Regan
  • Port Engineering Manager: Henry Kingston
  • Chief Commercial Officer: Conor Mowlds
  • Head of Human Resources: Peter O'Shaughnessy