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Displaying items by tag: HM Coastguard

Coastguard rescue teams around Great Britain and Northern Ireland were called to nearly 200 incidents over the weekend, to come to the aid of those who found themselves in difficulty in the sea or at the coast.

The 194 incidents included inflatables drifting offshore; crashed and broken down jet skis and pleasure boats; people injured while out walking or cycling along the coast; paddle boarders, kayakers, windsurfers and kite surfers who found themselves in difficulty; and people cut off by the tide or stuck in mud.

There were 84 callouts on Saturday (16 May) and a further 109 on Sunday (17 May), which proved to be the second busiest day of the year so far for HM Coastguard, as significant numbers of people took to the water and visited the coast.

In addition, 119 teams carried out proactive patrols of English beaches, cliffs and marinas to look out for anyone in trouble, offer safety advice where needed and ensure that people are staying safe in the water after the relaxing of some UK government guidelines in England.

‘The sea can still catch you out and can be unmerciful when it does’

The teams also assisted in providing mutual aid on 38 occasions in support of the other emergency services.

Boating, swimming and other sea-based activities are now allowed once again in England under UK government guidelines. In Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, the lockdown remains and people should continue to follow the guidance to stay home.

HM Coastguard director Claire Hughes said: “In England, now more than ever, people need to respect the sea and the coast. While people are now allowed to go out on and in the water, they need to make sure they are safe and protected and have a way to contact HM Coastguard if they get into difficulty.

“Regardless of how well you know the coast and of your ability in your chosen sport, the sea can still catch you out and can be unmerciful when it does.

“In addition, the government guidelines around social distancing should continue to be observed by everyone in the UK.”

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The number of recorded incidents dealt with by HM Coastguard yesterday has been the highest since the UK was put into lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic in late March, the service has warned.

Friday 8 May saw 97 incidents — a 54% increase over the daily average in the previous month — within a single 24-hour period. This coincided with the start of the UK’s early May bank holiday weekend.

“People are ignoring the measures put into place by the [UK] government,” said Matt Leat, duty commander with HM Coastguard.

“I completely understand that the weather and the bank holiday coupled with the fact that we’ve been in this lockdown situation for just over six weeks has tempted people out to our beautiful coasts.

“However, as the government said only yesterday, it’s really vital that we all continue to observe the guidance.”

Leet said that the coastguard would always respond to a 999 or distress call “but the minute we send in a rescue response, we’re putting our frontline responders at risk as well as putting the NHS under avoidable pressure”.

He added: “Please, please continue to observe the #StayHomeSaveLives message — it’s still in place for a reason. Exercise locally and stretch your legs, not our resources.”

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been criticised today (Sunday 10 May) for changing the coronavirus advice slogan from ‘stay at home’ to the less direct ‘stay alert’. The change has been rejected by the devolved institutions in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Portaferry’s coastguard rescue team was paged yesterday morning (Saturday 7 March) to a report of multiple kayakers capsized in the water off Killyleagh on Strangford Lough.

Portaferry RNLI were also tasked to the incident, recovering four individuals from the water and locating two more on Don O’Neill Island.

Another two were found on Island Taggart, and they were winched to safety by HM Coastguard rescue helicopter R199 based in Prestwick, south of Glasgow in Scotland.

The casualties were then taken to Killyleagh where Bangor Coastguard Rescue Team had set up a landing point.

The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service also tasked the Air Ambulance NI and Hazard Area Response Team to the scene.

All eight persons were checked over by the doctor and paramedics, with no further treatment needed.

“Well done to all emergency services involved in this incident and a good outcome in the end,” Portaferry Coastguard Rescue Team said.

Following the rescue, as BBC News reports, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency issued general advice to kayakers.

“We’d always recommend that kayakers tell someone at home their passage plan including points of arrival and departure, timescale and any other relevant information.

“It would also be advisable to consider advising the coastguard of your intentions and any deviation of your plans.

“You should also carry a VHF marine band radio and/or PLB (personal locator beacon).”

Published in Coastguard

HM Coastguard in the UK was among the agencies joining an international search operation last night (Friday 22 November) after a superyacht sank off Indonesia.

While initially believed to be a UK-registered vessel, it was quickly confirmed that the yacht, named Asia, was a Malaysian-registered sailing vessel with two British citizens among the four people aboard.

Following “extensive investigation work” by HM Coastguard, contact was made with the boat’s skipper at 5am this morning (Saturday 23 November).

He confirmed that the vessel sank after hitting an object in the water some 55 nautical miles off an Indonesian island, but all four crew had managed to get in board its RIB tender and were met by marine police at the nearest landfall.

“We are relieved to hear that the crew are now safely ashore,” said HM Coastguard Controller David Jones, who was in charge of co-ordinating efforts overnight.

“This incident demonstrated good international working between the UK Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre, JRCC Australia, JRCC Jakarta, USA Mission Control Centre and the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office.”

Published in Rescue

HM Coastguard rescue teams from Lerwick, Hillswick and Sumburgh, the search and rescue helicopter crew from Sumburgh and staff from the Coastguard Operations Centre in Shetland have been awarded the prestigious UK Department for Transport Rescue Shield by Brian Johnson, chief executive of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), for a dramatic cliff rescue 18 months ago.

The DfT Rescue Shield is the highest national accolade in the United Kingdom awarded to coastguard teams which have performed the most outstanding rescue of the year. The presentation last Tuesday 5 November marks the sixth time that Shetland-based teams have been awarded the shield.

On the evening of 9 May 2018, a teenager was trapped at the base of a 120ft cliff for two hours with the tide coming in, in Fethaland, Shetland, after attempting to scale it.

The rescue was challenging and its success was due to the professionalism and teamwork of all involved in a rescue co-ordinated by HM Coastguard.

Coastguard rescue teams navigated difficult terrain in appalling conditions on the narrow headland, setting up cliff rescue equipment before one of the team descended the cliff, enduring storm force winds, rain and heavy squalls from the incoming tide to safely recover the casualty to the top of the cliff.

“As emergency response teams we rely heavily on each other to achieve success and this case was a prime example of that,” said Dave Sweeney, senior coastal operations officer.

“It was a challenging rescue and we needed all our teams’ shared expertise and resources to safely rescue the man. It was teamwork at its best.

“We are honoured to be awarded for our efforts on this particular rescue and it’s a mark of recognition for all the work and dedication of the front line volunteers, paid crew members and behind the scenes teams that help us all save lives together.”

Published in Coastguard

Coleraine Coastguard is back in business after a reported burglary at its station during Storm Gareth on Tuesday night (12 March).

Volunteers woke yesterday morning (Wednesday 13 March) to find that their station “had been broken into and ransacked”.

The North Coast station was taken offline while the PSNI completely investigations and volunteers could determine that its equipment was safe to use.

Volunteers were given the all-clear by 4.30pm yesterday to resume their rescue services.

And they have appealed for anyone with information about the burglary — one of a spate of incidents throughout the town on Tuesday night — to contact the PSNI.

Published in Coastguard

#Hoax - The UK coastguard has decried an “elaborate hoax” after lifeboats and a coastguard helicopter were launched after several calls from someone claiming to be a kayaker in difficulty off the Co Down coast.

As BBC News reports, lifeboats from Bangor and Donaghadee RNLI respectively joined a rescue helicopter from HM Coastguard in Scotland in the search off the Copeland Islands yesterday (Sunday 2 April) that was declared a hoax after a thorough search of the area.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Two Coastguard Rescue Teams carried out a difficult and complex rescue in a Force 9 gale, after a climber became cragfast on cliffs at Fairhead, near Ballycastle, Northern Ireland.

At about 11.30pm yesterday (Tuesday 28 September) the UK Coastguard received a report from a local Coastguard Rescue Team member that a climber needed rescuing after becoming cragfast whilst climbing the cliff.

Ballycastle and Coleraine Coastguard Rescue Teams and Redbay RNLI All Weather Lifeboat were sent to the scene along with the UK Coastguard search and rescue helicopter based at Prestwick. The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service was also informed of the incident.

Daniel McAuley, Station Officer for Ballycastle Coastguard Rescue Team said: ‘The two climbers had started climbing the cliff at around 5.00pm and when the winds started to pick up, the position of the ropes they were using for support moved. Luckily, one of the climbers managed to get the top and raise the alarm at a local farmhouse nearby. The occupants of the farmhouse quickly alerted one of the local Coastguard team members who called the job into the Belfast Coastguard Operations Centre.

‘A combination of working in darkness, the instability of the cliff edge and the 44 knot winds meant that we had to set up thirty metres away from the edge of the cliff to make sure the equipment was secure. We were very grateful to the Belfast Coastguard Operations Centre for co-ordinating the response and for the Coastguard helicopter and the RNLI lifeboat, who shone their lights on the climber and our operations so we could work safely. Without their vital support, our jobs would have been made all the more difficult. This is a great example of how these teams worked brilliantly together under challenging circumstances to rescue the climber. Thankfully, he did not require any medical attention or treatment after being rescued.’

'The climbers did the right thing by calling the Coastguard as soon as they got into difficulty. Unfortunately, they just got caught out by the change in the wind conditions - we're just glad they're safe and well now.'

Published in Coastguard
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Plans to make sure there is a full maritime survey and inspection team covering the whole UK, will see more remote working and a slight change to where some of the marine offices are based.

The Maritime & Coastguard Agency has undertaken a review of the way it carries out its surveys and inspections and recently consulted on the locations of its marine offices. It has also, with its staff, reviewed the way the organisation of those offices is structured.

As a result of both consultations, changes have been made to the original proposals including keeping two offices open that were originally marked for closure and identifying a senior experienced marine surveyor who will have over-arching responsibility for the River Thames.

The proposals save more than a third of a million pounds in terms of estate costs.

Belfast, Liverpool, Cardiff Aberdeen, Plymouth, Southampton, Beverley (Hull) and Glasgow Marine Offices will remain open and a new office will be opened in the Colchester/Ipswich area. These will form the main Marine Office hubs.

Dover, Falmouth and Milford Haven will be satellite bases attached to the main marine office hubs from where they will be managed – Southampton, Plymouth and Cardiff respectively.

The Tyne office will close along with Harwich, Norwich and Orpington.

These changes are part of a much larger transformation programme for its survey and inspection business to improve customer service and efficiency. The proposals, which have been approved by the Executive Board of the MCA, will save money with minimal impact on the MCA survey and inspection work force.

Sir Alan Massey, Chief Executive said: ‘This programme marks an exciting moment for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency. The MCA’s marine surveyors are a vital part of our business and have built an outstanding reputation for their technical skills and professionalism. Yet the maritime world is changing, and we have to move with the times.

‘For example, we’ve had great difficulty in recruiting and retaining marine surveyors; and our customers are also - and rightly - demanding more responsive services that are fit for a competitive world market in the digital age. We need to address those things squarely. Modernising our approach, in terms of both the geographical location of our offices and the way our surveyors work, offers us a positive, efficient way forward.

‘We have consulted widely with our staff and external customers in coming to these decisions. The MCA is and remains committed to the highest standards in upholding maritime safety throughout our areas of responsibility: UK-wide and indeed globally. This transformation programme will greatly help us to achieve that.’

Katy Ware, Director of Maritime Safety and Standards and overseeing the plans for the Survey and Inspection Transformation Programme, said: ‘We understand that people might be worried about the future but we have assured both our surveyors and staff that we will continue to work with them as the change programme moves forward. People matter in this Agency and we are committed to making sure we continue to act with that in mind.’

‘We will work with all those staff affected on an individual basis on their transition plans as we will now be carrying on the work with those involved as we work towards implementing this new plan.’

‘I am mindful that we face some testing times ahead. However with the support of our diverse and highly experienced workforce I very much look forward to leading the Directorate of Maritime Safety and Standards as it develops to deliver a service that ensures we meet the expectations of our stakeholders and allows staff to develop themselves.’

Published in Coastguard
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#coastguard – HM Coastguard is coordinating a search for a missing windsurfer this evening near the mouth of the River Lune, Lancashire, after receiving a report at 4.30pm that four windsurfers had been out and three had made it back to shore but a fourth man in the group had not.

The windsurfer disappeared in foggy conditions near to the entrance to the River Lune, at the south end of Morecambe Bay. The search involves Knott End and Morecambe Coastguard Rescue Teams, Fleetwood and Morecambe Bay RNLI lifeboats, an RNLI operated hover craft and the rescue helicopter from RAF Valley. Police and mountain rescue have also helped with the search.

The search area now covers a large area including the sand banks between the Lune and Fleetwood.

Published in Coastguard
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Irish Coast Guard

The Irish Coast Guard is Ireland's 4th 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.

Introduction

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 around 2000 times (40 times to assist mountain rescues and 200 times to carry out aeromedical HEMS missions on behalf of the HSE), Coast Guard volunteer units will respond 1000 times and RNLI and community lifeboats will be tasked by our Coordination Centres about 950 times
  • evacuate medical patients off our Islands to hospital on 100 occasions
  • assist other nations' Coast Guards about 200 times
  • make around 6,000 maritime safety broadcasts to shipping, fishing and leisure craft users
  • carry out a safety on the water campaign that targets primary schools and leisure craft users, including at sea and beach patrols
  • investigate approximately 50 maritime pollution reports

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

List of Coast Guard Units in Ireland

  • 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

The roles of the Irish Coast Guard

The main roles of the Irish Coast Guard are 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.

Each year the Irish Coast Guard co-ordinates the response to thousands of incidents at sea and on the cliffs and beaches of Ireland. It does this through its Marine Rescue Centres which are currently based in:

  • Dublin
  • Malin Head (Co Donegal)
  • Valentia Island (Co Kerry).

Each centre is responsible for search and rescue operations.

The Dublin National Maritime Operations Centre (NMOC) provides marine search and rescue response services and co-ordinates the response to marine casualty incidents within the Irish Pollution Responsibility Zone/EEZ.

The Marine Rescue Sub Centre (MRSC) Valentia and MRSC Malin Head are 24/7 centres co-ordinating search and rescue response in their areas of responsibility.

The Marine Rescue Sub Centre (MRSC) Valentia is the contact point for routine operational matters in the area between Ballycotton and Clifden.

MRSC Malin Head is the contact point for routine operational matters in the area between Clifden and Lough Foyle.

MRCC Dublin is the contact point for routine operational matters in the area between Carlingford Lough and Ballycotton.

Each MRCC/MRSC broadcasts maritime safety information on VHF and, in some cases, MF radio in accordance with published schedules.

Maritime safety information that is broadcast by the three Marine Rescue Sub-centres includes:

  • navigational warnings as issued by the UK Hydrographic Office
  • gale warnings, shipping forecasts, local inshore forecasts, strong wind warnings and small craft warnings as issued by the Irish Meteorological Office.

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.

The Coast Guard can contract specialised aerial surveillance or dispersant spraying aircraft at short notice internationally.

Helicopter tasks include:

  • the location of marine and aviation incident survivors by homing onto aviation and marine radio distress transmissions, by guidance from other agencies, and by visual, electronic and electro-optical search
  • the evacuation of survivors from the sea, and medical evacuees from all manner of vessels including high-sided passenger and cargo vessels and from the islands
  • the evacuation of personnel from ships facing potential disaster
  • search and or rescue in mountainous areas, caves, rivers, lakes and waterways
  • the transport of offshore fire-fighters (MFRTs) or ambulance teams (MARTs) and their equipment following a request for assistance
  • the provision of safety cover for other search and rescue units including other Marine Emergency Service helicopters
  • pollution, casualty and salvage inspections and surveillance and the transport of associated personnel and equipment
  • inter-agency training in all relevant aspects of the primary role
  • onshore emergency medical service, including evacuation and air ambulance tasks
  • relief of the islands and of areas suffering from flooding or deep snow

The secondary roles of the helicopter are:

  • the exercise of the primary search, rescue and evacuation roles in adjacent search and rescue regions
  • assistance to onshore emergency services, such as in the evacuation of high-rise buildings
  • public safety awareness displays and demonstrations
  • providing helicopter expertise for seminars and training courses

The Irish Coast Guard provides aeronautical assets for search and rescue in the mountains of Ireland. Requests for Irish Coast Guard assets are made to the Marine Rescue Centres.

Requests are accepted from An Garda Síochána and nominated persons in Mountain Rescue Teams.

Information courtesy of Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (July 2019)

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