Divers of the Naval Service which form an elite unit in the force is operating at less than a quarter of its intended capacity as a result of the Defence Force’s retention crisis.
Naval Service Diving Section according to The Irish Times, is the only dive team in Ireland capable of carrying out deep sea operations. It has a wide variety of roles but its most prominent function is carrying out search and recovery operations for missing persons.
It carries out an average of 15 missing person searches every year, some of which last for up to two weeks at a time.
The diving section has an establishment strength of 27 divers but is operating with just six as a result of highly trained personnel leaving for the private sector. Moreover, the problem is compounded by a lack of replacements coming through.
The diving section has not been at full strength since before the reorganisation of the Defence Forces in 2012 which was marked by significant cuts to resources and a new manpower limit of 9,500.
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Last Sunday, Wexford Sub Aqua Club, presented the Kilmore Quay branch of the RNLI, with a cheque for €1,000. The presentation was done just before the crew went out for their scheduled morning training exercise.
This money was raised by members and friends of the club at their annual Christmas Swim.
This year’s swim was noticeable due to the temperature of the water, which swimmers commented on as being the coldest since the club started to do the event.
Swim organiser, Ivan Donoghue said that “it was so cold, that while swimmers walked to the waters edge, the sand was cracking under their feet. We braved the water for a few minutes, but the members of all the RNLI face such conditions on every call they go on. We thank everyone who took part, those who sponsored the swimmers and the Kilmore Quay RNLI for being there to protect the people who use the waters around the Saltee Islands”
The club’s next event is on Sunday April 22nd at 10.30am. It is a 5 mile fun run/walk around the scenic Kilmore Quay village and registration is at our clubhouse overlooking the Saltee islands. €10 entry for adults.
The club are currently in the process of teaching our five new members how to dive.
RTÉ News reports that an investigation has begun into the death of an Irish boy in a boating incident in the United States last week.
Harry O’Connor, 8, died on Saturday (29 July) three days after he was involved in a boat capsize in the Cape Cod Canal near Boston.
According to TheJournal.ie, the boy — who was on a day trip with his parents — was trapped under the capsized vessel for more than 20 minutes.
O’Connor had moved to Boston with his family from Clonmel and also had ties to Duleek in Co Meath, where his funeral will take place this Thursday (3 August).
In other news, a post-mortem was set to take place yesterday (Monday 31 July) after a 57-year-old man died in a diving accident off Donegal last Friday (28 July)
John Alwright’s oxygen mask was dislodged after he was swept into a cave by an underwater current, as Independent.ie reportss Independent.ie reports.
Despite the best efforts of his diving companions, Alwright was unresponsive when he came to the surface.
#Rescue116 - More than 100 divers have joined a major search since early this morning (Saturday 22 April) for Paul Ormsby and Ciaran Smith, the two Irish Coast Guard crew members still missing after the Rescue 116 tragedy over a month ago.
According to The Irish Times, an exclusion zone around the wreck site at Black Rock off Co Mayo has been lifted for the search, thought to be the largest ever co-ordinated dive in the history of the State.
Naval Service and Garda divers are joined by specialists in sub-sea search and recovery in combing the sea bed of at the western and south-western parts of the island, following the completion of a ‘360-degree’ terrain survey by the Army and Garda crime scene examiners.
The Irish Times has much more on the story HERE.
An eighth person was subsequently recovered from the water and airlifted to Sligo Hospital by the Irish Coast Guard helicopter Rescue 118, which was diverted from the ongoing search for the missing crew of Rescue 116.
Independent.ie reports that the latter diver was in serious condition, and that a second diver was later hospitalised.
The committee heard from Terry Allen of the National Monuments Service that the incident would have occurred even with supervision by an archaeologist.
But committee chair Peadar Tóibín said Heritage Minister Heather Humphreys has “questions to answer” as the decision to allow the dive to one of Ireland’s most important wreck sites unsupervised was itself a “significant break” from protocol.
A subsequent dive led by Eoin McGarry on behalf of the Lusitania’s owner Gregg Bemis recovered a separate telegraph machine from its bridge, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.
Marine salvage specialist Brian McAllister will talk the challenges of raising the Costa Concordia off the coast of Italy, a pioneering effort that involved the greatest minds and hands in the industry.
Renowned wreck diver Barry McGill discusses the struggle to control pivotal shipping waters in the North Atlantic off the Irish coast during the First World War by the use of U-boats and mines.
On a similar war theme, Irish-born but France-based diver and photographer Catherine Connors surveys the remains of the Second World War’s Operation Overlord, better known at the D-Day landings.
Closer to home, Tosh Lavery gives a brief history of the Garda Underwater Unit and its work on missing person and murder cases alike.
The Dive Ireland International Expo is the event of the year for all underwater enthusiasts, featuring two days of talks, trading and networking on Lough Ree that also includes the AGM of the Irish Underwater Council (CFT) on Sunday 5 March.
More details are available from DiveIreland.ie
Regularly used for the treatment of damaged body tissues, hyperbaric facilities are also key to the treatment of decompression sickness, or ‘the bends’ – a risk for deepwater divers.
Last November, Cork’s SCUBA diving community announced plans to raise funds for a local hyperbaric chamber, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.
Otherwise known as ‘the bends’, the potentially fatal condition is contracted when nitrogen bubbles form in the bloodstream of divers who surface from deep dives too quickly.
However, there is only one hyperbaric chamber required for the necessary oxygen therapy that caters for diving emergencies in the Republic, located in Galway.
That’s prompted the creation of the Munster Hyperbaric Chamber Project, to provide emergency facilities for affected divers in Ireland’s south-west in time for the 2017 diving season. The Irish Examiner has more HERE.
Divers from Bury and Wigan in the greater Manchester area were awarded the Expedition Trophy at the British Sub-Aqua Club Diving Conference recently for their reef and shipwreck dives out of Ballycastle — including one visit to a cruiser torpedoed during the First World War.
Eoin McGarry retrieved the treasure trove under licence from the Heritage Minister and on behalf of the wreck’s owner, multi-millionaire US businessman Gregg Bemis, who hopes to restore it for display locally.
The find completes a diving operation that began this past summer with the retrieval of part of the bridge telegraph — which Bemis and McGarry plan to return for in the new year.
Last month marked 81 years since the discovery of the Lusitania wreck site off the Old Head of Kindle, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.