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Displaying items by tag: Belfast Lough

It could be construed as an encouraging sign that half of the twelve-boat entry for the inaugural Royal Ulster Yacht Club on Belfast Lough to Strangford Lough Race was from that destination. Boats from the local fleet which would have been expected to enter were Sigma 33s, not yet launched due to the inclement spring weather.

Winner of both classes were visitors with the IRC fleet top prize going to Shaun Douglas's Beneteau 40.7 Game Changer from Cockle Island Boat Club at Groomsport on the North Down coast, in a corrected time of 3hrs 51mins ahead of Michael Eames' Sun Fast 3200 All or Nothing from Strangford Lough YC. And All or Nothing featured again, winning the NHC Unrestricted fleet in a corrected time of 3hrs 47mins in the NHC fleet ahead of Jay Colville's First 40 Forty Licks from Strangford Lough YC.

An interesting entry was the MGRS Juno which Myles Lindsay of Royal Ulster raced in Belfast Lough in the 90s. She languished in Arklow for some years and is now racing again in the North thanks to Terence O'Neill of Portaferry SC. She turned in a very respectable 4th place in the NHC fleet.

The course was from Bangor south along the Ards Peninsula coast to the finish on an imaginary East/West line at the Bar Pladdy South Cardinal buoy in the entrance to Strangford Sound.

The weather played its part in this race with a forecast of 10 knots early on and then an increase to 18 knots later which meant that with a Covid Restriction of 80% crew limit the two-sail fetch became a procession.

John Harrington in the IMX38, Excession was enthusiastic about the race even though as he said, they "didn't make a particularly good show of it competitively". He said " The sailing committee and the battery teams laid on a fantastic event for us. It was great to see so many visiting boats come for this new challenge. And the customary warm welcome in Portaferry brought back memories of events of old and an indication of a great summer of sailing ahead of us. We eagerly await the next race in the series".

Published in Belfast Lough
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The Sunday Life recently highlighted the decision by Downtown Radio Star Neil McClelland to support Lagan Search & Rescue.

Lagan S&R is an independent Lifeboat covering the seaward River Lagan and Belfast Lough; It relies on the generosity and support of the community. They said, "To have Neal come onboard to help us to raise vital funds and promote water safety within the community is fantastic". The River Lagan flows through the City of Belfast to Belfast Lough and its environs have in the last few years been the site of much regeneration of the city.

LS&R's new fundraising campaign is to Build a Boathouse. The team acquired a new lifeboat a year ago with a grant from the Department for Transport. This new craft has now been in operation for almost a year and is a superb asset for city of Belfast and surrounding areas. It is capable of 42 knots and equipped with twin 150 HP outboards, the latest Search and Rescue technology including Thermal Imaging, Radar, Wireless Communications and Sonar.

Lagan Search and Rescue boats on the pontoon in Belfast Harbour MarinaLagan Search and Rescue boats on the pontoon in Belfast Harbour Marina

In order to maximise the lifespan of this Lifeboat and the efficiency of rescues, they need to raise enough money to build a permanent floating boathouse in Belfast Harbour Marina.

Currently, the Lifeboats are in Belfast Harbour Marina but LS&R says they desperately need a Floating Boathouse in the same location, essentially a boathouse over the pontoon, so they are looking to raise enough money to do this. This facility would allow the team to keep all the kit, such as drysuits, helmets, water pumps etc. alongside the boat thus speeding up the response times significantly and protecting the boats from the elements when not in use.

For more information on this campaign please visit the dedicated website here

Harland & Wolff, the national strategic asset, with four leading shipyards and fabrication facilities based in Belfast, Appledore, and Scotland is proud to be celebrating its 160th anniversary.

Founded on April 11 1861 by Sir Edward James Harland and Gustav Wilhelm Wolff, its heritage includes work on some of the most iconic ships, including the famous RMS Titanic, RMS Olympic and HMHS Britannic, right through to the SS Canberra for P&O and the Myrina tanker – the first supertanker built in the UK.

John Wood, Group CEO commented: “It is a great privilege to celebrate 160 years of Harland & Wolff. It is a brand that is steeped in history and is now going through a pivotal change that will see it industry-leading once again.

We have already started to invest in all our facilities, from Wilma the robotic welder in Belfast to the complete restoration of the Appledore dock gates. As technology advances, we are keen to adopt new and better ways of doing things across all of our facilities to ensure we are internationally competitive.

As we recruit the next generation of shipbuilder and fabricators through our apprenticeship scheme, you will not just see ships being built under Samson and Goliath, you’ll see work from across all our five markets from wind farm jackets to bridges, and warships.”

Pioneering twenty-first century offshore and maritime engineering, Harland & Wolff operates throughout five markets, offering six key services. Its Belfast yard is one of Europe’s largest heavy engineering facilities, with deep water access, two of Europe’s largest drydocks, ample quayside and vast fabrication halls. As a result of the acquisition of Harland & Wolff (Appledore) in August 2020, the company has been able to capitalise on opportunities at both ends of the ship-repair and shipbuilding markets where there is significant demand.

In February 2021, the company acquired the assets of two Scottish based yards along the east and west coasts. Now known as Harland & Wolff (Methil) and Harland & Wolff (Arnish), these facilities will focus on fabrication work within the renewable, oil and gas and defence sectors.

Harland & Wolff is a wholly-owned subsidiary of InfraStrata plc (AIM: INFA), a London Stock Exchange-listed firm focused on strategic infrastructure projects and physical asset life-cycle management.

In addition to Harland & Wolff, it owns the Islandmagee gas storage project, which is expected to provide 25% of the UK’s natural gas storage capacity and to benefit the Northern Irish economy as a whole when completed.

Published in Shipyards

Coastguard and Lifeboat rescue teams have been extremely busy over the Easter Weekend and of course, answer distress calls without hesitation. But Belfast Coastguard Operations Centre has reported a hoax call.

Both Bangor and Portaferry Coastguard Rescue Teams were tasked to a vessel, possibly in distress near Ballywalter on the eastern Co. Down coast. Whilst they were proceeding to the scene, they received a call reporting a person in the water, and in serious difficulty in Killyleagh on the western side of Strangford Lough.

Both Coastguard Rescue Teams were diverted to the person in the water and Portaferry Lifeboat was also requested along with the Police Service. Belfast Coastguard said, "This was a hoax call. It tied up multiple Search and Rescue units, along with police, and someone who may have actually needed us had to wait. Please do not make hoax calls. Hoax calls cost lives".

Published in Coastguard
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 It isn't an April Fool! Thursday will be to Bangor Marina berth holders the end of a long-awaited return to their craft after a roller coaster of lockdown, opening up and lockdown again over the past year.

In Harbour Master Kevin Baird's welcome email to berth holders yesterday he said "We have spoken with and taken advice from the British Marine Federation, the RYA NI, the UK Harbour Masters Association, as well as consulting with healthcare professionals in order to try and navigate through these extraordinary times". And added, " Last week, Boris Johnson added 'fresh air' to the Coronavirus slogan, as sea-loving folk, we already know that sailing and boating provides that clean, fresh sea air which at this time of the year can blow with considerable strength".

There has been an update to the Regulations (Amendment 6) that outlines aspects from 1st April 2021 - up to 10 people (including children of all ages) from a maximum of two households can take part in outdoor sports activities. He added, "In the reading of these, it would be our understanding that restricted access to the Marina may be permitted".

But the reception, washrooms and laundry will remain closed and overnighting on board is strictly prohibited. The Marina is also closed to visiting craft.

Although reception is closed, staff can be reached by telephone; +44 (0) 28 9145 3297; email [email protected] or VHF Ch 80 or Ch11

Kevin sought to reassure boat owners, "These strange times will not last forever, and the sea will still offer solace when we all need it, and when the time is right".

Published in Belfast Lough

Belfast Lough based Artemis Technologies, which is leading a programme to develop a new class of zero-emission high-speed vessels, has unveiled the world's most advanced marine simulator in Northern Ireland. The simulator represents a multi-million-pound investment over the past decade by Artemis Technologies and the Artemis Racing professional sailing team.

The company will use the simulator to streamline the development process and prototyping of the company's Artemis eFoilerTM electric propulsion system and new green high-speed vessels, targeting the ferry and workboat markets.

Double Olympic champion Dr Iain Percy OBE, CEO of Artemis Technologies, had revealed the installation of the simulator ahead of the America's Cup, of which he is a four-time veteran. "We originally built the simulator for Artemis Racing taking part in the America's Cup, and are hugely excited to bring this incredible technology to Northern Ireland. There is nothing else like this in the world, it's the most advanced of its kind, and it's right here. Behind the device is all our collective learning, over 10 years and hundreds of millions of pounds in investment, learning about the marine environment and how vessels operate in that environment. The result is when we want to test something new, like a zero-emission vessel, we can confidently do that."

The simulator features a 4.5 metre high, 210-degree screen, which conveys images from three projectors, wrapped around a physical platform similar to those used for flight and motorsport simulators, providing an incredibly immersive experience.

It forms part of Artemis Technologies' roadmap to creating a high-tech maritime innovation hub in Northern Ireland. With the Belfast Maritime Consortium, we are trying to create a number of world's firsts, the first ever zero-emission high-speed fast ferry. As this has never been done before, by definition, you need a digital twin.

The simulator will continue to be used by high-performance professional sailing teams from across the world and is expected to attract interest from the commercial maritime sector.

Artemis Technologies is the lead partner in the Belfast Maritime Consortium which brings together a range of established and young firms, academia and public bodies, including: Ards and North Down Borough Council, Belfast City Council, Belfast Harbour, Belfast Met, Catalyst, Creative Composites, Invest Northern Ireland, Northern Ireland Advanced Composites Engineering (NIACE), Power NI (Energia Group), Queen’s University Belfast, Spirit AeroSystems, and Ulster University.

More here

Published in Belfast Lough
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Staff numbers at Artemis Technologies, which is leading a Belfast Lough-based consortium to decarbonise maritime, are expected to almost treble to 70 by the end of 2021 and rise to 100 by this time next year.

It is part of a major recruitment drive by the company as it ramps up its programme to develop and build a new class of zero-emission fast ferries in the city.

The £60-million project, backed by UK Research and Innovation’s flagship Strength in Places Fund is being led by the company’s Chief Operations Officer, Professor Mark Gillan.

He said: “This is an incredibly exciting time for Artemis Technologies, and the wider maritime sector, as we make strides towards a net-zero future for the industry, both in the UK and across the globe.

“Operating from Northern Ireland, together with our partners in the Belfast Maritime Consortium, we are working to deliver transformative new technology that will revolutionise maritime transport.”

A native of Co Down, Mark has held engineering leadership across the world, including senior roles in Formula One with McLaren, Jaguar/Red Bull, Toyota, and as Head of the Race Team at Williams.

He added:“We are recruiting for a number of key roles throughout the organisation and are particularly interested in hearing from exceptional potential candidates in the fields of flight control and complex systems engineering and electronics, project planning, procurement, electric drive train, naval architecture, and a range of support and administration roles.

“Many of these are jobs that simply did not exist in Northern Ireland a year ago. There is a huge opportunity here to ensure that we, as a region, hold on to our most talented minds while also attracting leading global experts.

“Our programme of works is really capturing people’s imaginations, and there is a real sense of pride of being part of something that will change the world, with Northern Ireland at the very heart.”

Harnessing knowledge that combines technology from the America’s Cup and Formula 1, the vessels to be developed in Belfast will be powered by the unique Artemis eFoilerTM electric propulsion system.

Published in Belfast Lough
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Belfast Coastguard Rescue team was contacted this week by the Stena Superfast ferry inbound to Belfast in the shipping channel near Holywood.

On Monday, January 25th the ferry had encountered a lone paddleboarder dangerously close to the vessel. Holywood is on the south shore of Belfast Lough about four miles east of the city of Belfast. The Coastguard also had multiple reports from concerned citizens.

The ship used its horn to warn the person about being too close and contacted the Coastguard. Once on scene the team located the paddleboarder and kept eyes on. He managed to paddle his way back to shore. Bangor Lifeboat was also tasked to the incident and was stood down on route.

After speaking to the paddleboarder, it was confirmed he was intending to surf the wash from the ferry. The team warned of the dangers of being too close to such large vessels and about the dangers of being in the shipping lane.

Published in Stena Line
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Bangor Marina on Belfast Lough is switching its electricity to a renewable source with immediate effect. 

Marina Manager Kevin Baird said the marina takes its responsibility to the environment seriously and is constantly looking at ways in which it can reduce its impact on the planet.

"We estimate this fully renewable supply reduces our carbon emissions by up to 1000 tonnes a year compared with traditional carbon led electricity supplies, which is a massive positive impact", Baird said.

Northern Ireland's biggest marina is part of a network of 11 'boatfolk' operated marinas around the UK all now sourcing fully renewable electricity, and with minimal impact to the price.

The facility at Bangor is a multiple winner of the Blue Flag Award and a Five Gold Anchor Marina. There are facilities for 550 berths with berthing for 50 visiting craft. Laundry, showers, trolleys and local advise provided for sailors. 

Baird told Afloat  "We're on a journey to reduce our carbon footprint and this is a crucial next step on that journey. 2021 is an important year for the world's efforts to tackle climate change and choosing 100% renewable electricity isn't just a 'feel good' thing to do, it's something that has a very real impact."

Published in Belfast Lough

The Maritime Mile is an initiative developed by Maritime Belfast Trust and is a curated experience that connects and celebrates Belfast's vibrant heritage waterfront. It was set up originally to deliver the Titanic Belfast Visitor attraction and now includes many projects dotted on the waterfront through which flows the River Lagan. Among the projects on what is a ten-kilometre trail are the SS Nomadic, a tender to the Titanic and the last remaining White Star Line ship in the world; HMS Caroline, a light cruiser and the only surviving battleship from the Battle of Jutland, and the Titanic Slipways.

HMS Caroline  Photo: National Historic ShipsHMS Caroline Photo: National Historic Ships

And now later this year another exciting new outdoor visitor experience will be added by Belfast Harbour - this time through sound - bringing to life part of Belfast's maritime heritage story.

Approvals are now in place for this impressive all-weather structure which will be located on the waterside, next to the Odyssey Complex and Belfast Harbour Marina, which was once the site of a brass foundry and Kelly's Coal yards. The design and sound were inspired by the noise of striking metal emanating from the old shipyards.

SoundYard will celebrate Belfast's maritime heritage, add to the animation, accessibility, and vibrancy of the Maritime Mile, as well as help reconnect and educate children and adults of the significance of the shipyard. Children will enjoy the sensory experience whilst playing within the structure while adults connect with the sound and interpretation within the site. In response to ongoing Covid-19 guidelines, the installation will be activated by motion sensors to avoid children touching the apparatus.

The structure's unique design was the winning submission of the Royal Society of Ulster Architects Early Career CityPlay Design competition in 2019. The talented young architects, Hannah Wilson, Matthew Kernan and Eunan Deeney, were inspired by the noise of striking metal from the old shipyard works and the sounds from repurposed metal pipework. The team also considered the circular economy for the built environment, and how elements have been designed with re-use, repurposing and recycling in mind.

SS NomadicSS Nomadic

The project has been funded by Tourism NI, Maritime Belfast Trust, JP Corry and Belfast Harbour, with collaborative partnerships with the Royal Society of Ulster Architects, Todd Architects and the Odyssey Trust.

Kerrie Sweeney, Chief Executive of Maritime Belfast Trust, said: "We are delighted to have this opportunity to team up with young architects, stakeholders and former shipyard employees to develop this amazing project, The SoundYard project aims to create a new bespoke play experience along the Maritime Mile and will also attract local communities and reconnect them with the city's iconic waterfront, especially during these difficult times. It brings the heritage and story of the former Shipyard into the heart of Belfast, a community that has contributed so much to our maritime economy past and present."

Joe O'Neill, Chief Executive of Belfast Harbour, added " Creating an iconic waterfront for the city and vibrant inner harbour is one of Belfast Harbour's key strategic goals. Our partnership with Maritime Belfast Trust plays a vital role in helping us to deliver this ambition and the SoundYard project is an element in a wide range of activities supporting the delivery of this goal and creating an area in which people want to work, live, invest and relax".
Tourism NI Director of Product Development, Rosemarie McHugh, said: "The new tourism brand Northern Ireland Embrace A Giant Spirit, is based on what we know visitors enjoy when they come to Northern Ireland – the giant spirit of the people, authentic local experiences and stories, and our magnificent landscape. This project by the Maritime Belfast Trust is another exciting addition to the visitor experience along Belfast's Maritime Mile".

Ronnie West, Civils Products sales Manager at JP Corry, commented: "It has been a pleasure for JP Corry to work with the RSUA to support innovation and design in the NI construction sector. The SoundYard has been a tremendous achievement by Hannah, Matthew and Eunan, against stiff competition, to design and bring to life such a fitting and tributary concept, wonderfully situated in the historic Titanic Quarter. It is sure to be enjoyed by many for years to come."

The SoundYard will be free to visit and open to the public later this year.

The Maritime Belfast Trust is working on several initiatives to enhance the Maritime Mile initiative, to attract more local people and visitors, and provide greater opportunities for engagement with the story of what was once, the largest shipyard in the world.

Published in Belfast Lough
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The Irish Coast Guard

The Irish Coast Guard is Ireland's fourth 'Blue Light' service (along with An Garda Síochána, the Ambulance Service and the Fire Service). It provides a nationwide maritime emergency organisation as well as a variety of services to shipping and other government agencies.

The purpose of the Irish Coast Guard is to promote safety and security standards, and by doing so, prevent as far as possible, the loss of life at sea, and on inland waters, mountains and caves, and to provide effective emergency response services and to safeguard the quality of the marine environment.

The Irish Coast Guard has responsibility for Ireland's system of marine communications, surveillance and emergency management in Ireland's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and certain inland waterways.

It is responsible for the response to, and co-ordination of, maritime accidents which require search and rescue and counter-pollution and ship casualty operations. It also has responsibility for vessel traffic monitoring.

Operations in respect of maritime security, illegal drug trafficking, illegal migration and fisheries enforcement are co-ordinated by other bodies within the Irish Government.

On average, each year, the Irish Coast Guard is expected to:

  • handle 3,000 marine emergencies
  • assist 4,500 people and save about 200 lives
  • task Coast Guard helicopters on missions

The Coast Guard has been around in some form in Ireland since 1908.

Coast Guard helicopters

The Irish Coast Guard has contracted five medium-lift Sikorsky Search and Rescue helicopters deployed at bases in Dublin, Waterford, Shannon and Sligo.

The helicopters are designated wheels up from initial notification in 15 minutes during daylight hours and 45 minutes at night. One aircraft is fitted and its crew trained for under slung cargo operations up to 3000kgs and is available on short notice based at Waterford.

These aircraft respond to emergencies at sea, inland waterways, offshore islands and mountains of Ireland (32 counties).

They can also be used for assistance in flooding, major inland emergencies, intra-hospital transfers, pollution, and aerial surveillance during daylight hours, lifting and passenger operations and other operations as authorised by the Coast Guard within appropriate regulations.

Irish Coastguard FAQs

The Irish Coast Guard provides nationwide maritime emergency response, while also promoting safety and security standards. It aims to prevent the loss of life at sea, on inland waters, on mountains and in caves; and to safeguard the quality of the marine environment.

The main role of the Irish Coast Guard is to rescue people from danger at sea or on land, to organise immediate medical transport and to assist boats and ships within the country's jurisdiction. It has three marine rescue centres in Dublin, Malin Head, Co Donegal, and Valentia Island, Co Kerry. The Dublin National Maritime Operations centre provides marine search and rescue responses and coordinates the response to marine casualty incidents with the Irish exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

Yes, effectively, it is the fourth "blue light" service. The Marine Rescue Sub-Centre (MRSC) Valentia is the contact point for the coastal area between Ballycotton, Co Cork and Clifden, Co Galway. At the same time, the MRSC Malin Head covers the area between Clifden and Lough Foyle. Marine Rescue Co-ordination Centre (MRCC) Dublin covers Carlingford Lough, Co Louth to Ballycotton, Co Cork. Each MRCC/MRSC also broadcasts maritime safety information on VHF and MF radio, including navigational and gale warnings, shipping forecasts, local inshore forecasts, strong wind warnings and small craft warnings.

The Irish Coast Guard handles about 3,000 marine emergencies annually, and assists 4,500 people - saving an estimated 200 lives, according to the Department of Transport. In 2016, Irish Coast Guard helicopters completed 1,000 missions in a single year for the first time.

Yes, Irish Coast Guard helicopters evacuate medical patients from offshore islands to hospital on average about 100 times a year. In September 2017, the Department of Health announced that search and rescue pilots who work 24-hour duties would not be expected to perform any inter-hospital patient transfers. The Air Corps flies the Emergency Aeromedical Service, established in 2012 and using an AW139 twin-engine helicopter. Known by its call sign "Air Corps 112", it airlifted its 3,000th patient in autumn 2020.

The Irish Coast Guard works closely with the British Maritime and Coastguard Agency, which is responsible for the Northern Irish coast.

The Irish Coast Guard is a State-funded service, with both paid management personnel and volunteers, and is under the auspices of the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport. It is allocated approximately 74 million euro annually in funding, some 85 per cent of which pays for a helicopter contract that costs 60 million euro annually. The overall funding figure is "variable", an Oireachtas committee was told in 2019. Other significant expenditure items include volunteer training exercises, equipment, maintenance, renewal, and information technology.

The Irish Coast Guard has four search and rescue helicopter bases at Dublin, Waterford, Shannon and Sligo, run on a contract worth 50 million euro annually with an additional 10 million euro in costs by CHC Ireland. It provides five medium-lift Sikorsky S-92 helicopters and trained crew. The 44 Irish Coast Guard coastal units with 1,000 volunteers are classed as onshore search units, with 23 of the 44 units having rigid inflatable boats (RIBs) and 17 units having cliff rescue capability. The Irish Coast Guard has 60 buildings in total around the coast, and units have search vehicles fitted with blue lights, all-terrain vehicles or quads, first aid equipment, generators and area lighting, search equipment, marine radios, pyrotechnics and appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE). The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) and Community Rescue Boats Ireland also provide lifeboats and crews to assist in search and rescue. The Irish Coast Guard works closely with the Garda Siochána, National Ambulance Service, Naval Service and Air Corps, Civil Defence, while fishing vessels, ships and other craft at sea offer assistance in search operations.

The helicopters are designated as airborne from initial notification in 15 minutes during daylight hours, and 45 minutes at night. The aircraft respond to emergencies at sea, on inland waterways, offshore islands and mountains and cover the 32 counties. They can also assist in flooding, major inland emergencies, intra-hospital transfers, pollution, and can transport offshore firefighters and ambulance teams. The Irish Coast Guard volunteers units are expected to achieve a 90 per cent response time of departing from the station house in ten minutes from notification during daylight and 20 minutes at night. They are also expected to achieve a 90 per cent response time to the scene of the incident in less than 60 minutes from notification by day and 75 minutes at night, subject to geographical limitations.

Units are managed by an officer-in-charge (three stripes on the uniform) and a deputy officer in charge (two stripes). Each team is trained in search skills, first aid, setting up helicopter landing sites and a range of maritime skills, while certain units are also trained in cliff rescue.

Volunteers receive an allowance for time spent on exercises and call-outs. What is the difference between the Irish Coast Guard and the RNLI? The RNLI is a registered charity which has been saving lives at sea since 1824, and runs a 24/7 volunteer lifeboat service around the British and Irish coasts. It is a declared asset of the British Maritime and Coast Guard Agency and the Irish Coast Guard. Community Rescue Boats Ireland is a community rescue network of volunteers under the auspices of Water Safety Ireland.

No, it does not charge for rescue and nor do the RNLI or Community Rescue Boats Ireland.

The marine rescue centres maintain 19 VHF voice and DSC radio sites around the Irish coastline and a digital paging system. There are two VHF repeater test sites, four MF radio sites and two NAVTEX transmitter sites. Does Ireland have a national search and rescue plan? The first national search and rescue plan was published in July, 2019. It establishes the national framework for the overall development, deployment and improvement of search and rescue services within the Irish Search and Rescue Region and to meet domestic and international commitments. The purpose of the national search and rescue plan is to promote a planned and nationally coordinated search and rescue response to persons in distress at sea, in the air or on land.

Yes, the Irish Coast Guard is responsible for responding to spills of oil and other hazardous substances with the Irish pollution responsibility zone, along with providing an effective response to marine casualties and monitoring or intervening in marine salvage operations. It provides and maintains a 24-hour marine pollution notification at the three marine rescue centres. It coordinates exercises and tests of national and local pollution response plans.

The first Irish Coast Guard volunteer to die on duty was Caitriona Lucas, a highly trained member of the Doolin Coast Guard unit, while assisting in a search for a missing man by the Kilkee unit in September 2016. Six months later, four Irish Coast Guard helicopter crew – Dara Fitzpatrick, Mark Duffy, Paul Ormsby and Ciarán Smith -died when their Sikorsky S-92 struck Blackrock island off the Mayo coast on March 14, 2017. The Dublin-based Rescue 116 crew were providing "top cover" or communications for a medical emergency off the west coast and had been approaching Blacksod to refuel. Up until the five fatalities, the Irish Coast Guard recorded that more than a million "man hours" had been spent on more than 30,000 rescue missions since 1991.

Several investigations were initiated into each incident. The Marine Casualty Investigation Board was critical of the Irish Coast Guard in its final report into the death of Caitriona Lucas, while a separate Health and Safety Authority investigation has been completed, but not published. The Air Accident Investigation Unit final report into the Rescue 116 helicopter crash has not yet been published.

The Irish Coast Guard in its present form dates back to 1991, when the Irish Marine Emergency Service was formed after a campaign initiated by Dr Joan McGinley to improve air/sea rescue services on the west Irish coast. Before Irish independence, the British Admiralty was responsible for a Coast Guard (formerly the Water Guard or Preventative Boat Service) dating back to 1809. The West Coast Search and Rescue Action Committee was initiated with a public meeting in Killybegs, Co Donegal, in 1988 and the group was so effective that a Government report was commissioned, which recommended setting up a new division of the Department of the Marine to run the Marine Rescue Co-Ordination Centre (MRCC), then based at Shannon, along with the existing coast radio service, and coast and cliff rescue. A medium-range helicopter base was established at Shannon within two years. Initially, the base was served by the Air Corps.

The first director of what was then IMES was Capt Liam Kirwan, who had spent 20 years at sea and latterly worked with the Marine Survey Office. Capt Kirwan transformed a poorly funded voluntary coast and cliff rescue service into a trained network of cliff and sea rescue units – largely voluntary, but with paid management. The MRCC was relocated from Shannon to an IMES headquarters at the then Department of the Marine (now Department of Transport) in Leeson Lane, Dublin. The coast radio stations at Valentia, Co Kerry, and Malin Head, Co Donegal, became marine rescue-sub-centres.

The current director is Chris Reynolds, who has been in place since August 2007 and was formerly with the Naval Service. He has been seconded to the head of mission with the EUCAP Somalia - which has a mandate to enhance Somalia's maritime civilian law enforcement capacity – since January 2019.

  • Achill, Co. Mayo
  • Ardmore, Co. Waterford
  • Arklow, Co. Wicklow
  • Ballybunion, Co. Kerry
  • Ballycotton, Co. Cork
  • Ballyglass, Co. Mayo
  • Bonmahon, Co. Waterford
  • Bunbeg, Co. Donegal
  • Carnsore, Co. Wexford
  • Castlefreake, Co. Cork
  • Castletownbere, Co. Cork
  • Cleggan, Co. Galway
  • Clogherhead, Co. Louth
  • Costelloe Bay, Co. Galway
  • Courtown, Co. Wexford
  • Crosshaven, Co. Cork
  • Curracloe, Co. Wexford
  • Dingle, Co. Kerry
  • Doolin, Co. Clare
  • Drogheda, Co. Louth
  • Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin
  • Dunmore East, Co. Waterford
  • Fethard, Co. Wexford
  • Glandore, Co. Cork
  • Glenderry, Co. Kerry
  • Goleen, Co. Cork
  • Greencastle, Co. Donegal
  • Greenore, Co. Louth
  • Greystones, Co. Wicklow
  • Guileen, Co. Cork
  • Howth, Co. Dublin
  • Kilkee, Co. Clare
  • Killala, Co. Mayo
  • Killybegs, Co. Donegal
  • Kilmore Quay, Co. Wexford
  • Knightstown, Co. Kerry
  • Mulroy, Co. Donegal
  • North Aran, Co. Galway
  • Old Head Of Kinsale, Co. Cork
  • Oysterhaven, Co. Cork
  • Rosslare, Co. Wexford
  • Seven Heads, Co. Cork
  • Skerries, Co. Dublin Summercove, Co. Cork
  • Toe Head, Co. Cork
  • Tory Island, Co. Donegal
  • Tramore, Co. Waterford
  • Waterville, Co. Kerry
  • Westport, Co. Mayo
  • Wicklow
  • Youghal, Co. Cork

Sources: Department of Transport © Afloat 2020

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