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Displaying items by tag: Fastnet Rock

MOD70 Trimaran PowerPlay, led by Peter Cunningham and skippered by Ned Collier Wakefield, has completed the original Fastnet Course of 595 nautical miles in a new world record of 25hrs 04mins 18secs. *Subject to ratification by the World Sailing Speed Record Council.

“It was kind of ambitious, but the conditions were right, and the team was ready to go,” commented Peter Cunningham. “The PowerPlay crew was fantastic. Miles (Seddon) did a brilliant job navigating, we had two wonderful drivers in Ned Collier Wakefield, who set up the boat and runs the programme, and the fastest sailor on Earth, Paul Larsen, who drove in some incredibly bad conditions.”

PowerPlay rounded the famous Fastnet Lighthouse off the coast of County Cork on Monday night.  The historic 595nm course starts from Cowes IOW, around Lands' End, across the Celtic Sea, around the Fastnet Lighthouse off the coast of Ireland, and finishing at the Plymouth Breakwater. PowerPlay rounded the famous Fastnet Lighthouse off the coast of County Cork on Monday night. The historic 595nm course starts from Cowes IOW, around Lands' End, across the Celtic Sea, around the Fastnet Lighthouse off the coast of Ireland, and finishing at the Plymouth Breakwater. 

Shortly after midday on Monday 05 April, in a bitterly cold strong northerly wind. PowerPlay started their Fastnet record attempt on the Squadron Line at Cowes. PowerPlay made short work of racing to Lands' End and powered across the Celtic Sea at speeds in excess of 30 knots. PowerPlay rounded the famous Fastnet Lighthouse and raced through the night. On Tuesday 06 April, at 13:42 and 19 seconds BST, PowerPlay reached the Plymouth Breakwater, where the team celebrated their amazing run of 25 hours, 4 minutes and 18 seconds.

The PowerPlay team celebrated their amazing run of 25 hours, 4 minutes and 18 secondsThe PowerPlay team celebrated their amazing run of 25 hours, 4 minutes and 18 seconds Photo: Lloyd images

“We didn’t leave much out there, we were pushing really hard and everything aligned,” commented PowerPlay Skipper Ned Collier Wakefield. “I am not going to lie, it was pretty full on, especially in April with an arctic northerly with snow around. With the apparent wind we saw 50 knots over the deck, and we hit a top speed of just under 40 knots. The lads did a brilliant job, changing sails about every half an hour – It was rough, physical and very cold. As a crew we have done cumulatively over 50 Fastnet Races, we love the course and to do it faster than it has been done before is really cool.”

PowerPlay Crew for Fastnet Course Record: Peter Cunningham, Ned Collier Wakefield, Tom Dawson, John Hamilton, Paul Larsen, Jack Trigger, Miles Seddon, Martin Watts PowerPlay Crew for Fastnet Course Record: Peter Cunningham, Ned Collier Wakefield, Tom Dawson, John Hamilton, Paul Larsen, Jack Trigger, Miles Seddon, Martin Watts. Photo: Lloyd images

The historic 595nm course starts from Cowes IOW, around Lands' End, across the Celtic Sea, around the Fastnet Lighthouse off the coast of Ireland, and finishing at the Plymouth Breakwater.
PowerPlay’s run is over two hours quicker than the record set by Phaedo3 in 2015.

The first Fastnet Race was in 1925 and won by Jolie Brise which took over six days to finish the course.

Published in Fastnet
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Yachts that were aiming to compete in the now-cancelled Round Ireland Race are among an expected 12-boat line-up that will contest tonight's Kinsale Yacht Club Fastnet Race sponsored by UK Sailmakers Ireland.

Among the front runners for the 100-mile race are Annamarie and Denis Murphy's Grand Soliel 40, Nieulargo that was also racing last night in Royal Cork's July league in Cork Harbour. Also starting as a contender is Cian McCarthy's new Sunfast 3300, Cinnamon Girl.

Making the trip from Dublin Bay is John Treanor's Grand Soleil 34 Justina from the National Yacht Club.

John Treanor's Justina has made the trip from Dublin Bay for the KYC Fastnet RaceJohn Treanor's Justina has made the trip from Dublin Bay for the KYC Fastnet Race Photo: Afloat

Kinsale entries are expected to include Finbarr O'Regan's Artful Dodger and Tom Roche's Meridian.

The race will have an all-in start with the first gun at 6.25 pm off the Charles Fort line.

KYC will award the Fastnet Trophy to the yacht with the lowest corrected time in IRC. The Ocean Trophy shall be awarded to the yacht with the second-lowest corrected time in IRC. The Minihane Trophy shall be awarded to the yacht with the lowest corrected time in Echo. If

The forecast is for light to medium south-west winds.

Published in Kinsale

West Cork man Steve Redmond has become the first person to swim non-stop from Baltimore Harbour to Fastnet Rock and back, as RTÉ News reports.

The 54-year-old endurance swimmer had to content with jellyfish stings and strong currents in the cold sea water as he made the round trip to the iconic offshore island and lighthouse.

But he was also joined by some curious minke and humpback whales as he strove to complete the 40km challenge in 15 hours and 35 minutes yesterday evening, Monday 20 July.

Redmond is no strange to breaking records, however, as he was previously named World Open Water Swimming’s Man of the Year for 2012 after he completed the Oceans7 Challenge — the sea swimming equivalent of climbing the world’s seven highest peaks.

Published in Sea Swim

The first Royal Western Yacht Club Lonely Rock Race will set off from the vicinity of Ryde in the Eastern Solent on 16 August 2020. The course will leave the Isles of Scilly to Port, round the Fastnet Rock to Port, pass the Isles of Scilly once again to Port and finally finish in Plymouth Sound.

Chris Arscott, RWYC Commodore, explains “It is our intention to run a Corinthian race on alternate years to the RORC Fastnet Race. We realise that there are a number of sailors and boats that may struggle to finish the RORC Fastnet Race in time for work on the following Monday due to its new length. The ‘Lonely Rock Race’ is in no way intended to replace the RORC Fastnet Race and is nothing to do with RORC in any way; indeed it is to be held in opposite years to RORC’s race and as such offers an additional opportunity to enjoy one of the most challenging Corinthian offshore race courses in the world.”

The name ‘Lonely Rock’ is a loose translation of the Gaelic name – ‘An Charraig Aonair’ for Fastnet Rock. The original course dates back to 1925 when two members of the RWYC famously made a bet on who could win a race around this notorious landmark, starting from Ryde and Finishing in the Port of Plymouth. Now, the RWYC is bringing the Corinthian spirit back to the race with an emphasis on the club sailor with a desire to take on this famous course. The entry will be open to mono and multihull yachts between 30 and 60 feet in length.

Arscott also said: “Whilst we are fully aware of the increasingly difficult and worrying times ahead with COVID-19, we feel it is important to have something to look forward to and we continue to plan for the Lonely Rock Race for now or in the future should this be necessary. We continue to monitor the situation closely.”

Published in Solo Sailing
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A fishing vessel registered in France according to RTE News, has been detained off the Cork coast.

The Naval Service vessel LÉ Niamh detained the boat (on Wednesday) and its crew around 150 nautical miles south west of Fastnet Rock.

The detention was in connection with an alleged breach of fishing regulations.

The fishing boat is being escorted by the LÉ Niamh to Castletownbere, where it will be handed over to gardaí.

The Naval Service says this is the ninth vessel to be detained so far this year.

Published in Navy

In Irish waters a Portuguese-registered fishing vessel, reports The Irish Times, was detained by the Navy Service on Thursday.

The Lé Samuel Beckett, a Naval Service patrol vessel, detained the Portuguese boat approximately 200 nautical miles south of Fastnet Rock, after an alleged breach of fishing regulations.

In a statement, the service said the Portuguese vessel was being escorted to Castletownbere, County Cork, where it will be handed over to An Garda Síochána. The detention is now a garda matter and the nature of the infringement has not been disclosed.

It is the second detainment by the service this week and the eighth of 2019. On Tuesday, Lé George Bernard Shaw detained an Irish fishing vessel off Howth.

More here on this latest detention. 

Published in Navy

Following the news that the 340 places in the biennial RORC Rolex Fastnet Race had been snapped up within minutes of entries for 2019’s race opening, Afloat understands that the Community Council on Cape Clear Island – the nearest part of Ireland to the famous rock - has been considering submissions about how best to monetise their very special rock’s unmistakable marketing appeal.

“We don’t want to appear greedy or grasping” a spokeswoman said, "but the fact is that since 1925, the international offshore racing community – a notably affluent group – have been making regular use of a very important piece of our land without paying a cent for it. It may well be that we’ve had some indirect long-term tourism benefits from the continuous appearance of the Fastnet Rock in photographs and as an international symbol of offshore racing. But we feel that it is now time for a more practical direct payment for the benefit of our isolated community”.

Cape Clear Island sources tell Afloat.ie that one way of raising income would be a “Fastnet Charge”, to be levied by the RORC as part of the entry fee, and then subsequently paid to the Community Council. The islanders are well aware of the enormous size range of boats in the Fastnet fleet, and they insist that the levy should reflect this. The suggestion is that for 2019, the fee should be €5 per metre of overall length, but the “Capers” assure us that Irish entries would be exempt, unless it became obvious that all sorts of boat-owners from all over the world were claiming to be Irish.

As negotiations are still at a preliminary and very delicate stage, Afloat.ie has been unable to get any comment on the matter from either the Royal Ocean Racing Club or sponsors Rolex. But the word in Baltimore and Schull is that the folk on the nearby mainland are with the Capers all the way, and the latest suggestion from the West Cork shore is that noted sailing celebrity and summer local Jeremy Irons of Kilcoe Castle be invited to become a Patron of the recently-formed Fellowship Administering Fastnet Fund.

Published in Fastnet
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Following last year’s performance of ‘Flying Irishman’ Tom Dolan and pioneering woman Joan Mulloy in their Solitaire du Figaro debuts, now the renowned solo offshore race is coming to Ireland.

The Solitaire URGO Le Figaro is set to return to Kinsale this summer for the first time since 2009 for its 50th gala edition, with a course that takes in a rounding of Fastnet Rock to Kinsale on the weekend of 8-9 June to end its first leg out of Nantes.

The racing fleet continues on a “marathon run” around the Irish coast through the Irish Sea, around the Isle of Man and back down the west coast of Great Britain to Roscoff in northern France.

Stage three is a loop of ‘La Manche’ back to Roscoff before the final stage, via Wolf Rock and the Isle of Wight, to Dieppe. In all the course covers 2,130 miles (not accounting for weather-related changes).

Tom Dolan has already pledged his return for his second Figaro, this time in his new Figaro 3 boat, while the presence of Joan Mulloy — Ireland’s first female entry in the race — will further buoy Irish interest in the challenge as it takes in our coast.

Dolan tells Afloat.ie that he is “itching to get going after three months of computers and meetings!”

Solitaire 2019 route

Race organisers add: 

The Solitaire URGO Le Figaro is set to enter a new era this year, with the introduction of the new Figaro Bénéteau 3 for the 50th edition of the annual solo sailing race. Starting from the French city of Nantes on June 2nd, 2,130 nautical miles of challenging offshore racing around some of Europe’s roughest waters await the Figaro skippers, including a return to Ireland with a stopover in Kinsale.

Owned and organised by OC Sport’s French subsidiary OC Sport Penduick, the Solitaire URGO Le Figaro is one of the world’s toughest sailing competitions. Fiercely competitive, the race is recognised as the unofficial world championship of solo offshore racing, with the course taking just over a month to complete. Requiring a unique skill set, the Solitaire URGO Le Figaro pushes competitors to the edges of their physical and mental limits.

OC Sport Pen Duick Event Director Mathieu Sarrot commented: “This anniversary year of the Solitaire is set to be an historic edition and we are expecting a diverse fleet including previous winners and new comers to the new Figaro Bénéteau 3. This means the stakes will be high with everyone out to prove themselves in a new boat.

“On the water it will be particularly challenging,” Sarrot continued. “To be successful the competitors will need seasoned offshore experience as well as coastal knowledge. But also sheer grit and determination. With the ongoing support of our title partner URGO, it’s set to be an incredible 50th edition."

The fleet will start leg 1 under the striking bridge of Saint-Nazaire following a passage through the river Loire from the historic city of Nantes in Brittany. After rounding Île d’ Yeu, they will head across the Celtic Sea before passing the legendary Fastnet Rock and heading to the port of Kinsale, Ireland. At 500 nautical miles, the fleet will be immersed in a tough race from the off with a drag race through potentially choppy seas to keep the solo skippers on their toes before they arrive in Irish waters.

Speaking on behalf of the Kinsale Chamber of Tourism and Business, Board Member Ciaran Fitzgerald and Chairperson Guny Patel commented: “Kinsale Chamber is delighted with the announcement that the 50th Anniversary of the prestigious La Solitaire Le Figaro yacht race has been awarded to Kinsale for June 2019.

“This is an amazing event for Kinsale to host and welcome back having hosted this world famous single handed race more than any Port over the 50 years of the race. Kinsale Chamber looks forward to welcoming the sailors and visitors for what will be an incredible spectacle on sea and land over the five days of the stopover. Congratulation to Enda O'Coineen and his team for bringing this event to Ireland.”

Expected to arrive in Kinsale on Wednesday 5th June, the Solitaire URGO Le Figaro fleet will stay in Ireland until Sunday 9th June, when the skippers will set sail on the longest 630-nautical mile Leg 2 to Roscoff in northern Brittany. In a first for the Figaro fleet, this marathon stage will take the skippers along the stunning Irish coast and through the unpredictable, and at times dangerous, Irish sea before rounding the Isle of Man. A long descent along the rugged western Welsh coast, followed by a passage between Land's End and the Scilly Isles, before a crossing of the English Channel towards Roscoff will conclude what is sure to be a gruelling leg.

From Roscoff, the fleet will stay in the familiar waters of Brittany where they will tackle a 450 nautical mile coastal course that will require them to use all of their technical and tactical prowess in the strong tidal currents, before returning to Roscoff on Wednesday 19th June.

To end the 2019 Solitaire URGO Le Figaro, the increasingly exhausted fleet have a double Channel crossing to contend with. At 500 nautical miles, the final leg will see the competitors leave Roscoff on Saturday 22nd June to head across the channel towards Land’s End via a starboard rounding of the south cardinal navigation mark off Portsall. From there, they will have to negotiate the difficult conditions along the south coast of England before skirting the Isle of Wight, and crossing back into French waters through one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes. With fast depleting energy, the skippers will need to keep their wits about them as they head to a mark off Barfleur, before the final sprint into the Normandy fishing port of Dieppe.

The skippers are expected to arrive in Dieppe on Wednesday 26th June, with a non-points scoring postlogue race planned for Saturday 29th June allowing the public to see the new Figaro Bénéteau 3’s in action before the official prize giving where the winner of the 2019 Solitaire URGO Le Figaro will be crowned.

As many as 40 Figaro skippers are expected to compete in this 50th anniversary edition, including former winners alongside a plethora of young talent. At 2,130 nm, the 2019 Solitaire URGO Le Figaro course is one of the longest in race history and it will take everything in the skippers’ solo offshore arsenal to get them to the finish line.

With just over five months to go until the build-up begins in Nantes, the skippers will be using this valuable time to take delivery and train on their new Figaro Bénéteau 3’s. A full skippers line-up will be revealed in April.

La Solitaire URGO Le Figaro 2019 Schedule

May 27th: Arrival of the fleet in Nantes, France
June 2nd, Leg 1 start: Nantes, France – Kinsale, Ireland (via Fastnet Rock) – 500nm
June 9th, Leg 2 start: Kinsale, Ireland – Roscoff, France (via the Isle of Man) – 360nm
June 16th, Leg 3 start: Roscoff, France – Roscoff, France - 450nm
June 22nd, Leg 4 start: Roscoff, France – Dieppe, France – 460nm
June 26th: Anticipated arrival of first boats in Dieppe
June 29th: Postlogue and awards ceremony in Dieppe

Published in Figaro

Concern has been expressed in West Cork about the effect of a proposed reduction in power in the Fastnet Rock Light after the Commissioners of Irish Lights have completed work at the famous Lighthouse during 2018 and 2019.

In a statement issued today, the Commissioners comment: “This is part of a planned programme of continuous maintenance, upkeep and modernisation of our coastal services to the mariner. The work consists of structural repairs which are necessary to ensure the metal lantern room is properly secured to the granite tower, and modernisation of the light source to an energy efficient rotating LED lantern.

When these works are completed the outward appearance of the Fastnet will be unchanged. The work will improve our environmental impact by significantly reducing the need for diesel and generators and by removing all mercury from the station. The range of the light will reduce from 27 to 18 Nautical miles.”

However, Irish Lights understands that the Fastnet is important, not only as an Aid to Navigation, but as part of the heritage of the area and as a tourism asset.

In order to provide information on the works to the West Cork community, Irish Lights are holding a Public Information Meeting at Schull Sailing Centre on Monday 5th March at 1900hrs, to which anyone with any concerns whatsoever about the future of the Fastnet Rock Lighthouse is invited.

Published in Lighthouses
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The Fastnet Rock and its lighthouse – the most southerly part of Ireland - make up one of the best-recognised maritime structures in the world writes W M Nixon. Symbol, icon, emblem, signpost of the ocean – you name it, the Fastnet is all of these things. And the slender, beautifully-engineered lighthouse itself is central to the rock’s significance.

Since 1904 – after several previous attempts at placing a light on the rock - the glow of its beam has been moving every night along the glorious coast of West Cork. It is a familiar and much-loved part of that unique region’s heritage. It is impossible to imagine the area without it. And not surprisingly, many people want it to stay totally as it is, an unchanging constant in a changing world, a part of their lives as it was part of their parents’ and grandparents’ world before them

Yet with technology always advancing, inevitably the power source for the Fastnet Rock was becoming long out-dated, and increasingly costly to run. At the Irish Lights base in Dun Laoghaire, a new LED bulb has been developed which will provide a light in a much more economical way. 

Yet if the new system is introduced, while it will still be a very powerful light, it will be one third less powerful than the present antiquated system. Naturally it is causing concern in West Cork. The Irish Times has the story here

Published in Lighthouses
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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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