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Displaying items by tag: Irish Coast Guard

Ahead of the first long weekend of 2024, celebrating St Brigid, the Irish Coast Guard, RNLI and Water Safety Ireland have issued a joint water safety appeal asking people to stay safe when in, near or on the water.

The organisations are also reminding the public that water and air temperatures are relatively cold this time of the year and that hypothermia can set in quickly when sea swimming or coastal walking.

Water temperatures are still cold, meaning cold water shock and hypothermia are risks that can affect everyone. To avoid this during swims, people should acclimatise to the water slowly to get used to the cold and warm up quickly upon exiting the water.

The coastguard, RNLI and Water Safety Ireland advise everyone intending to take part in any water-based activity or coastal walks to make sure they check in advance what they should do to keep safe.

If heading out on the water or visiting the coast:

  • Never mix alcohol with water activities.
  • Always check the weather and tides.
  • Carry a reliable means of raising the alarm: a VHF radio, personal locator beacon (PLB) or a fully charged mobile phone.
  • Tell someone where you are going and what time you will be back.
  • Wear a suitable personal flotation device when boating or angling.
  • Watch out for incoming tides to avoid getting cut off.

If you are swimming:

  • Water temperatures are still cold at this time of the year, so consider wearing a wetsuit to stay warm.
  • Acclimatise slowly, wear a bright swimming cap and consider a tow float to increase your visibility.
  • Never swim alone and always ensure that your activity is being monitored by a colleague.

Gerard O’Flynn, head of operations with the Irish Coast Guard says: “It is important to plan activities carefully this time of the year given that the weather conditions can be cold and changeable, for guidance on water safety planning, people should consult the Safety on the Water website at Gov.ie.”

Roger Sweeney, Water Safety Ireland’s deputy chief executive says: “Winter storms have damaged many waterside walking routes that were considered familiar and safe but may now be hazardous. Erosion underfoot is not always obvious until it is too late.

“Tell children in your care that to stay SAFE is to Stay Away From Edges. Use walkways that have public rescue equipment such as ringbuoys in bright yellow boxes. Report missing or vandalised ringbuoys at ringbuoys.ie, as a stolen ringbuoy could mean a stolen life.”

Linda-Gene Byrne, RNLI regional water safety lead added: “If you find yourself struggling in the water unexpectedly, your instinct will tell you to swim hard. But cold-water shock can make you gasp uncontrollably. Then you can breathe in water and drown. Instead, you should Float to Live.

“The best way to float is to tilt your head back with your ears submerged. Try to relax and breathe normally. You can gently move your hands to help you stay afloat if you need to. Spread your arms and legs out to improve stability — and it's OK if your legs sink, we all float differently. Once your breathing is under control, call for help or swim to safety.”

If you see somebody in trouble on the water or along the coast, or think they are in trouble, dial 112 or use VHF Channel 16 and ask for the coastguard.

Published in Water Safety

A public consultation on policy for using drones has been initiated by Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan and junior minister Jack Chambers.

Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), as drones are formerly known, are being introduced into the public safety and search and rescue capabilities of the Irish Coast Guard, the Department of Transport said.

They are also “delivering benefits to the public in the medical field with the transportation of medical samples between hospitals and laboratories or the delivery of prescriptions to remote areas, for example”, it says.

The department says the Government “wants to hear from the public on key issues including how to respond to concerns about the increase in the use of UAS, how to position Ireland as a potential frontrunner in this emerging sector, and how to future-proof responsible development of the industry”.

“The policy framework is coming at a time when Ireland needs to set out the vision, strategy and priorities for the development of the UAS sector, which is growing rapidly and which has many positive and potentially life-saving benefits,” Ryan said.

“It will aim to foster the industry’s growth and innovation while managing safety, security, environmental and other concerns,” he said.

“UAS presents exciting opportunities for business and the public sector to boost productivity, improve service provision, support emergency response and infrastructure safety inspections, assist search and rescue operations, create high-tech jobs and boost the economy across Ireland,” Chambers says.

Public opinion on measures to address privacy, environment, safety and security concerns is crucial to developing this framework, and I encourage the public to respond to this request for submissions,” he adds.

The closing date for participation in the public consultation is 5 pm on Friday, March 8th.

Submissions can be made online here and can also be made by email at: [email protected]

Published in Coastguard
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The new contractor to provide search and rescue services for the Irish Coast Guard has reached and agreement with the union representing air crew.

As RTÉ News reports, the deal between Bristow Ireland and the union branches representing both coastguard pilots and technical crew, such as winch operators, covers terms of employment and dispute resolution.

The agreement will allow for these employees’ transfer from CHC Ireland to Bristow in 2025 when the new 10-year contract will be fully operational.

Bristow Ireland, which signed the contract in August last year to operate six helicopters and two fixed-wing aircraft from bases around the country, remains in negotiations with the union representing engineering staff.

Pilots are represented by the Irish Airline Pilots’ Association (IALPA) branch of Fórsa, and Fórsa represents technical staff including winch crew.

Bristow said it is continuing to engage with the Unite trade union, which represents engineering staff, with further discussions due in early 2024.

A transition plan has been drawn up with Fórsa and IALPA for the date when Bristow takes over the contract in 2025. It is currently held by CHC Ireland which has initiated a court action.

The employees involved will transition to Bristow up to June 2025, in line with the intended transition plan and schedule.

Bristow described the agreement as a key milestone in the successful transition of search and rescue operations.

Bristow Ireland is due to provide six  AW189 helicopters from the existing Irish Coast Guard SAR bases in Shannon, Sligo, Waterford, and Dublin.

The new contract will include a fixed-wing aircraft service, with an option for the Air Corps to take over this element.

RTÉ News has more on the story HERE.

Published in Coastguard

The Drogheda unit of the Irish Coast Guard is currently recruiting for new volunteers to join the Co Louth search and rescue team.

Based at Horse Lane in Drogheda, the emergency service provides boat- and land-based search and rescue response 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

New recruits will be inducted and trained over a 12-month probationary period, with ongoing accredited training in both land, sea and boat SAR capabilities.

Prospective candidates must have a clean driver’s licence and a good level of physical fitness, as well as live within 10 minutes of the coastguard station, and must commit to weekly training as well as have the flexibility to respond to emergency taskings at any time of day or year.

For more details, see Drogheda Coast Guard’s Facebook page HERE.

Published in Coastguard

The search for a fisherman missing after a small fishing vessel with two on board sank off the coast of Co Louth on Tuesday morning (12 December) has been called off for the night.

RTÉ News reports that a second fisherman was rescued after the incident north of Dunany Point in Dundalk Bay, and is being treated at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda.

A multi-agency search and rescue operation was launched following at Mayday call at 8.45am from the fishermen’s vessel, with lifeboat and coastguard teams from Clogherhead and Greenore joining the Dublin-based Irish Coast Guard helicopter Rescue 116 at the scene.

Clogherhead RNLI says the search will resume on Wednesday morning (13 December), adding: “We are thinking of the family of the fisherman at this difficult time.”

Published in Fishing

The Irish Coast Guard has rescued four people after a 30-foot vessel overturned on Lough Foyle this afternoon.

The Maritime Rescue Sub Centre in Malin Head and Belfast Coastguard have successfully coordinated a rescue of four people in Lough Foyle.

The alert was raised by the activation of a personal locator beacon when the vessel overturned.

The casualties were located and recovered by the Greencastle Coast Guard Unit and transferred to the hospital by the Sligo-based helicopter R118.

The Portrush Lifeboat was also involved with the search alongside other local craft.

The casualties are believed to be in good spirits following their ordeal.

Published in Coastguard
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The Irish Coast Guard says it accepts the findings made in the inquest into the death of advanced coxswain Caitriona Lucas of its Doolin unit off the Clare coast in September 2016.

A statement by the Irish Coast Guard said it would “now take time to reflect on the recommendations” and described Ms Lucas as “a very highly regarded and valued member of the Doolin Unit of the Irish Coast Guard who tragically lost her life in the course of duty”.

“We would like to extend our condolences to Ms Lucas’s family and friends on their enormous loss,” it said.

“We will now take time to reflect on the recommendations that have been made,” it stated and said that it was working to implement recommendations arising from two previous investigations into her death.

The jury of seven returned a verdict of death by misadventure and issued seven recommendations relating to Coast Guard safety, training, equipment and management at the four-day hearing, which concluded on Thursday before Limerick coroner John McNamara at Kilmallock court, Co Limerick.

In his summing up for the jury, Mr McNamara said it was “unfortunate” that her drysuit, which had filled with water, was not available for inspection by the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) or its experts.

Mr McNamara said that “it is clear that if Ms Lucas’s helmet had remained on, it may have avoided the head injury that she sustained”.

Dr Teresa Laszlo, consultant pathologist, gave the cause of Ms Lucas’s death as drowning. A skull injury was a contributory factor.

Ms Lucas’s family was heavily critical of the Irish Coast Guard after the hearing, questioning why a 2012 recommendation to put in a safety systems manager was not implemented until 2018 – two years after her death.

The Irish Coast Guard said its “priority at all times is the safety of our volunteers who save the lives of others”.

“Following Ms Lucas’s death, both the HSA and the Marine Casualty Investigation Board have conducted reviews into the incident, and the Irish Coast Guard has worked to implement the recommendations stemming from both of these reports,” it said.

“The Irish Coast Guard is committed to operating at the highest possible maritime safety standards so that we support and protect our volunteers as they work to serve communities all around Ireland,” it said.

It thanked Mr McNamara and the jury “for the work and time they have dedicated to this inquest”.

Published in Coastguard

As the full inquest into the death of Irish Coast Guard volunteer Caitríona Lucas continued on Tuesday (28 November), two survivors of the RIB capsize off Co Clare which claimed her life have described how the three were tossed into the sea.

The Irish Independent reports that survivor Jenny Carway told the inquest that had Lucas’ helmet not been ripped off by a freak wave, she might have survived the incident.

Fellow survivor James Lucey told the full inquest held by Limerick coroner John McNamara at Kilmallock courthouse that the sea was “like a washing machine”.

As Afloat.ie reported, Lucas, a 41-year old librarian and mother of two, died after a Kilkee Coast Guard RIB capsized during a search for a missing man on 12 September 2016.

The highly experienced member of Doolin Coast Guard, who had been assisting the neighbouring unit at Kilkee in the search, was the first Irish Coast Guard volunteer to lose her life during a tasking.

When she was recovered from the sea by helicopter, having lost consciousness, she was not wearing her helmet, her lifejacket was not fully inflated and she had sustained an injury to her head.

The coroner and a jury of four men and three women were told that the Kilkee unit were short of volunteers for sea operations that day and had asked assistance from the Doolin unit.

The Kilkee RIB with Lucas, James Lucey and Jenny Carway approached Lookout Bay and Intrinsic Bay near Kilkee around 1pm on 12 September 2016.

The inquest was told that the crew had not been made aware of the fact that Intrinsic Bay could witness “peculiar” waves — and that vessels reversed into the inlet for safety reasons.

They were also unaware of any specific dangers posed by the waters involved, with sea conditions much better than the previous day.

Lucey said they were “moving along slowly” when they were hit by a wall of water and the RIB capsized. He was able to clamber onto a rock, was swept off, but then managed to reach a ledge in a sea cave which he was later rescued from.

He described seeing Lucas floating on her back with her face upwards, shouted to her to try to stand, and then saw her floating face down in the water when he looked again.

“Caitríona shouted ‘breaking wave’. I barely got to move my head around when I saw the water,” the newspaper quoted Jenny Carway as telling the inquest.

Carway managed to keep her helmet but the helmets of Lucey and Lucas had been ripped off by the force of the water. She described how her helmet was loose-fitting but she had used an inflatable bladder to tighten it and firmly adjusted the chin strap.

“It [the helmet] could have been the difference between her being here today and not,” Carway told the inquest.

Marine expert Michael Kingston, representing the Lucas family, put it to Carway that drone rescue footage which has been made available to the inquest shows what happened to Lucas without her helmet.

“Ms Lucas can be seen [on the drone footage] being struck by the boat and rocks, rendering her unconscious,” he said.

Read the Irish Independent HERE.

Published in Coastguard

The Irish Coast Guard (IRCG), a Division of the Department of Transport, has vacancies for Watch Officers at its three Marine Rescue Coordination Centres in Dublin, Valentia, Co. Kerry and Malin Head, Co. Donegal.

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 communications systems, act as Search and Rescue Mission Coordinators, Marine Alert and Notification Officers, as well as tasking and co-ordination of Coast Guard aviation operations. They process marine communication traffic, monitor vessel traffic separation, and coordinate responses to, maritime casualty and pollution incidents and Coast Guard support for the other emergency services.
Full details of the role, including specific eligibility requirements is available on www.publicjobs.ie

The closing date for receipt of completed applications is 3pm on Thursday, 26th October 2023.

We are committed to a policy of equal opportunity and encourage applications under all nine grounds of the Employment Equality Act.

More information here

Published in Jobs
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The Department of Transport has announced the appointment of the first Assistant Secretary-General for the Irish Coast Guard (IRCG) and a new Director to the Coast Guard.

These appointments were made to support the ongoing provision of emergency response services by the IRCG, which is committed to providing excellence in this area through a combination of volunteer and permanent staff.

Ms Joanna Cullen, a long-serving member of the Civil Service, has been appointed to the position of Assistant Secretary General. She has been with the Department of Transport for four years and has extensive experience in implementing organisational change and improving HR, governance, and procurement processes.

Meanwhile, Mr Micheál O’Toole has been appointed as Director of the Irish Coast Guard. Mr O’Toole has had a distinguished career in the Merchant Navy and has been with the IRCG since 2007. He has held various senior leadership roles in the Coast Guard, including in Voluntary Service, Preparedness and Response, and as Coast Guard Operations Manager.

Minister Chambers, who is responsible for the Irish Coast Guard, expressed his satisfaction with the appointments, stating that he is confident that both Ms Cullen and Mr O’Toole will work alongside the Irish Coast Guard Community to implement changes that will enable the organisation to continue to lead in maritime search and rescue and support those who are committed to saving lives at sea.

The Minister also thanked Mr Eugene Clonan and Mr. Gerard O’Flynn for their work in acting as Director and Assistant Director of the Coast Guard over the past few years. Their dedication and commitment were vital in leading the IRCG through a challenging period.

Published in Coastguard
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Shannon Foynes Port Information

Shannon Foynes Port (SFPC) are investing in an unprecedented expansion at its general cargo terminal, Foynes, adding over two-thirds the size of its existing area. In the latest phase of a €64 million investment programme, SFPC is investing over €20 million in enabling works alone to convert 83 acres on the east side of the existing port into a landbank for marine-related industry, port-centric logistics and associated infrastructure. The project, which will be developed on a phased basis over the next five years, will require the biggest infrastructure works programme ever undertaken at the port, with the entire 83 acre landbank having to be raised by 4.4 metres. The programme will also require the provision of new internal roads and multiple bridge access as well as roundabout access.