The need to urgently upgrade the existing equipment has been recognised and the purchase of three Integrated Communication System (ICS) cores at a cost of approximately €2.5 million has been approved. One will be located at each centre. Tendering procedures for the necessary radio equipment is at an advanced stage and delivery and installation of the first Integrated Communication System (ICS) core in Dublin will be in late 2009 with work at Malin and Valentia to commence in 2010. This phasing ensures that full national coverage is maintained while development work takes place.
Proposals to develop the Dublin Centre, where a move from the present location is necessary, are underway. This will improve the function and capacity of this location as a full Marine Rescue Co-ordination centre. Building work is expected to commence in Q2 2009. The intention is to move the MRCC from its present site in the Nurses home to the main Department of Transport building in Leeson Lane.
The other ICS cores are to be located in Malin and Valentia. Each ICS core will be linked to a range of Coast Guard remote aerial sites which will ensure the capacity to retain full national coverage should one of the centres go offline.
This decision means that the capacity and flexibility of the national maritime and rescue communications system will be considerably enhanced. The Minister commented that this represents a significant step in the ongoing development of maritime safety services in Ireland which will continue in the years ahead.
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