Menu
Allianz and Afloat - Supporting Irish Boating

Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

In association with ISA Logo Irish Sailing

Displaying items by tag: Defence Forces

The role of Ireland in overseas peacekeeping missions could well be enhanced when Defence Forces numbers are back up to the minimum establishment strength of 9,500.

Minister for Defence Simon Coveney has revealed he's in favour of the Naval Service mounting further overseas missions such as joining an anti-piracy task force off the Horn of Africa, or on migrant rescue operations like previous ones carried out in the Mediterranean Sea.

He revealed that in 2015 plans were being drawn up to send a navy ship to the waters off the Horn of Africa to thwart raids on international commercial shipping by Somali pirates.

Mr Coveney said deployment was being looked at when the migrant crisis started to unfold off the coast of Libya.

More on this story writes Irish Examiner here which previously on Sunday reported the manpower crisis in the Naval Service which could see two more ships tied up by the end of the year.

Afloat adds that if that scenario arose the number of operational patrol vessels in the naval fleet would be reduced by almost half, from a total of 9 down to four ships. So far the flagship HPV LÉ Eithne along with CPV LÉ Orla has been tied up since last year at the Naval Base on Haulbowline Island, Cork Harbour.

During the height of the Covid-19 crisis, the flagship was temporarily drafted back into service to assist the HSE when berthed at Cork City.  

Published in Navy

The representative body of Irish Defence Forces Officer grades has warned that if immediate, significant retention initiatives are not implemented, the forces will not only never return to its target strength of 9,500, but will continue to decline.

As RTE reports, the Representative Association of Commissioned Officers (RACO) issued the warning in a briefing document for Oireachtas members.

RACO focuses on the staff recruitment and retention crisis in the Defence Forces, noting that despite Government commitments to boost numbers, they have fallen to an all-time low of 8,485 due to an "unsustainably high" staff turnover rate of 10.5% last year.

At the end of April, the Army had 6,867 members, the Naval Service had 892, while the Air Corps had 726.

In 2019, 870 Defence Forces members left the service, while 605 joined - a net loss of 265.

There are currently 1,015 vacancies, up from 327 at the end of 2017

In addition RACO highlights the impact of Covid-19 restrictions which will exasperate matters and more can be read here

Published in Navy

Ministers reports The Irish Examiner, have described comments by President Michael D Higgins that members of the Defence Forces should have sufficient incomes as “deeply unhelpful”.

Mr Higgins’s comments on Wednesday night caused widespread surprise, anger, and bemusement in Government circles yesterday over what was seen as “interference” in political matters.

As Fine Gael ministers, TDs, senators, and MEPs gathered in Garryvoe, east Cork, for their party’s think-in ahead of the Dáil’s return, Mr Higgins’s comments were widely commented upon.

“Of course they were deeply unhelpful,” one senior minister said. “We are trying to hold a public pay deal together with sticky tape and Blu-Tack. This will only heighten the pressure on us to loosen the purse strings even further.”

Speaking publicly, Agriculture Minister Michael Creed hit a most undiplomatic tone, saying he found the President’s decision to comment “quite unusual”.

The newspaper has more here on this ongoing issue. 

Published in Navy

In an announced from the Government an action plan to deliver a €10 million package to restore pay to members of the Defence Forces.

As RTE reports, the Government said the package will immediately improve the take-home pay of members of the Defence Forces.

Minister for Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform Paschal Donohoe said work on the high-level plan to implement the recommendations of the Public Service Pay Commission would begin immediately.

He said the Government was committed to making steady improvements in pay to public servants but only to the extent that they are affordable and sustainable.

Minister of State with responsibility for the Defence Forces Paul Kehoe said the package was recognition by the Government of the challenges of recruitment and retention within the army, navy and air corps.

For more from the launch by the Minister of the new package click this link

Published in Navy

It is expected that the Government will announce a new review of pay for up to 2,500 members of the Defence Forces with specialist or technical skills.

The move, writes The Irish Times, will be in addition to the proposed increase in allowances which the Government is set to announce this week as part of an initiative to address recruitment and retention problems in the military.

Ministers are expected to say that the review of military specialists’ pay could be completed within months.

Among those likely to be encompassed by such a review would be cooks, mechanics, technicians, fitters, carpenters, aircraft mechanics, military police investigators and air-traffic controllers.

Minister for Public Expenditure Paschal Donohoe is to bring proposals to the Cabinet for pay improvements for members of the Defence Forces based on the recommendations of the Public Service Pay Commission.

The Government is expected to announce a new review of pay for up to 2,500 members of the Defence Forces with specialist or technical skills.

The move will be in addition to the proposed increase in allowances which the Government is set to announce this week as part of an initiative to address recruitment and retention problems in the military.

Ministers are expected to say that the review of military specialists’ pay could be completed within months.

Among those likely to be encompassed by such a review would be cooks, mechanics, technicians, fitters, carpenters, aircraft mechanics, military police investigators and air-traffic controllers.

Minister for Public Expenditure Paschal Donohoe is to bring proposals to the Cabinet for pay improvements for members of the Defence Forces based on the recommendations of the Public Service Pay Commission.

The €10.1 million package of measures will centre on increases in allowances paid to members of the Defence Forces rather than rises in core pay.

Military service allowances, which currently range from €42 to €123 per week, would be raised by 10 per cent as part of a move to improve recruitment and retention of personnel under consideration by the Government.

Reductions in other allowances imposed in 2013 are also expected to be reversed as part of the package.

The patrol duty allowance of €48 per day for Naval Service personnel at sea would also be increased by about €5 under the proposals.

In addition, a loyalty bonus – which could be up to €19,000 – is expected to be put in place to encourage pilots to remain in the Defence Forces.

If approved by the Government, the increased allowances would come into effect immediately.

For more on the story including non-pay initiatives click here. 

In addition as previously featured Naval Patrol vessels including flagship LE. Eithne to be docked out of service due to staff shortage. 

Published in Navy

The Defence Forces are currently conducting surface live firing practice shoots off West Cork, as per Marine Notice No 12 of 2019.

The practice shoots from today, Tuesday 28 May, to Thursday 30 May are taking place in Danger Area D13, in the coastal area south-south-west of Cork between Seven Heads and Galley Head and to seaward from 8am to 5pm daily.

The Danger Area comprises the sea area contained within the co-ordinates. The co-ordinates of area D13 are as follows:

LatitudeLongitude
51° 34.12’N 008°42.36’W
51°20.12’N 008°34.36’W
51°17.36’N 008°48.48’W
51°31.42’N 008°57.06’W

For the periods while the range is active, this sea area is out of bounds to all vessels. A Naval Service patrol vessel will enforce the Danger Area D13.

All vessels are advised that they are required to remain outside of the exclusion zone whilst the range is active, and are also recommended to carefully monitor the Radio Navigation Warnings that will be broadcast during the firing period.

Published in Marine Warning

#navy - Irish Government must address the crisis in the Defence Forces which has now reached the point where its effectiveness is so broken that it can no longer guarantee the security of the State and its citizens, a protest march by former members of the Defence Forces has heard.

Almost 1,500 former members of the Defence Forces, writes The Irish Times, from the Army, Air Corps and Naval Service marched in the second Respect and Loyalty Parade through Cork city to highlight poor pay and conditions.

Parade organisers said 166 personnel left the Defence Forces in the first three months of 2019, while a high-profile recruitment campaign last year led to a net gain of just three and the overall number in the Defence Forces now stands at around 8,500, 1,000 less than the recommended minimum number of 9,500.

Retired Lt Col Dan Harvey addressed a rally in the Grand Parade, saying that it was a sad day when retired members of the Defence Forces felt they had to march to highlight the situation in which their currently serving comrades find themselves.

For further comments made by the retired colonel and more click here.

Published in Navy

#navy - The Irish Times writes that it is the breaking down of barriers which is central to what Mark Mellett sees as his role as Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces.

The obstacles are within the Defence Forces itself and between them and the outside world.

He believes that the way to penetrate these resistant mindsets is through strategic and mutually beneficial engagement with academe and the private sector, on the one hand, and also by the Defence Forces participating – in keeping with government-determined policy – in military initiatives further afield.

Having risen through the ranks of the Naval Service to senior command and taken part in several high-profile operations (including recovery work in the wake of the Whiddy Island oil ship explosion disaster and Air India jet crash off the west coast), Vice-Admiral Mellett, who has a doctorate in political science, began to think more than a decade ago about leadership on a larger playing field.

To read more comments from the Chief of Staff click here.

Published in Navy

#NavalService - Organisation that represents Defence Forces officers says it doesn’t have confidence that the Public Service Pay Commission (PSPC) will deliver much-needed pay increases for lowly-paid sailors, soldiers, and aircrews.

As the Irish Examiner writes, the warning from Raco (Representative Association for Commissioned Officers) comes after many hard-pressed Defence Forces families were forced to rely on charitable donations of food hampers to get them over the Christmas period.

Raco general secretary, Commandant Conor King, said little had changed for the lowest paid public servants since Nasa (National Association of Army Spouses) took to the streets 30 years ago to highlight the deplorable pay and conditions endured by military personnel.

Comdt King said Nasa’s actions gave birth to the founding of his own military representative association and that of sister organisation PDForra, which represents enlisted personnel.

He said the recent Respect and Loyalty parade outside the Dáil, organised by veterans, and the founding of the lobby group Wives and Partners of the Defence Forces (WPDF) showed that little had changed since 1998.

Click the link here for further reading on the story.

Published in Navy
Tagged under

#NavalService - The Irish Times writes that the head of Defence Forces has sought to make a verbal submission to the Public Sector Pay Commission because of the seriousness of the military pay issue in the view of himself and senior colleagues.

Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces Vice Admiral Mark Mellett declined to use the word “crisis” saying he preferred to say the military was facing serious “challenges”.

He was speaking on Tuesday before addressing the annual conference of PDforra, the Defence Forces’ rank-and-file representative body, in Castlebar, Co Mayo.

His remarks came in the wake of two Naval Service vessels being unable to put to sea last week (see Afloat's related coverage) because of crew shortages, and reservists being used to fill crew gaps on another vessel.

The problems prompted Vice Admiral Mellett and his assistant Chief of Staff, Brig Gen Peter O’Halloran, to hold emergency talks last Friday with the Naval Service Flag Officer Commanding, Cdr Mick Malone. For much more from the newspaper click here. 

Also the story appears in The Irish Mirror which adds that morale is at an all-time low in the Naval Service with 66 sailors staying on board their ships because they can’t afford high rental prices.

The revelation was made by Mark Keane, president of PDFORRA, the organisation that represents members of the Defence Forces. Mr Keane lifted the lid on the discontent in the ranks at the naval base on Haulbowline Island in Cork Harbour.

For further reading including comments made by the president also speaking at the conference held in Mayo, click here. 

Published in Navy
Page 1 of 3

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

Featured Sailing School

INSS sidebutton

Featured Clubs

dbsc mainbutton
Howth Yacht Club
Kinsale Yacht Club
National Yacht Club
Royal Cork Yacht Club
Royal Irish Yacht club
Royal Saint George Yacht Club

Featured Brokers

leinster sidebutton

Featured Webcams

Featured Car Brands

subaru sidebutton

Featured Associations

ISA sidebutton dob
ICRA
isora sidebutton

Featured Events 2021

vdlr21 sidebutton

Featured Sailmakers

northsails sidebutton
uksails sidebutton

quantum sidebutton

Featured Chandleries

CHMarine Afloat logo
osm sidebutton
https://afloat.ie/resources/marine-industry-news/viking-marine

Featured Marinas

dlmarina sidebutton

Featured Blogs

W M Nixon - Sailing on Saturday
podcast sidebutton
mansfield sidebutton
BSB sidebutton
sellingboat sidebutton

Please show your support for Afloat by donating