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Displaying items by tag: Irish Coast Guard

Castletownbere’s RNLI lifeboat sprang into action to help locate a tourist reported missing on Dursey Island in West Cork yesterday afternoon (Friday 17 May).

The lifeboat, under the command of coxswain Dean Hegarty, launched shortly after 2pm after Valentia Coast Guard radio received reports that a visitor to the island off the Beara Peninsula had gone missing.

Also tasked were the Shannon-based Irish Coast Guard helicopter Rescue 115, Derrynane Inshore Rescue Boat and the Naval Service vessel LÉ Ciara.

Once on scene, the lifeboat commenced a search of the area while Rescue 115 did a sweep of the island and spotted a person who fitted the description of the casualty.

The coastguard helicopter lowered a winchman and confirmed that the casualty was safe and well. All emergency services were then stood down.

Commenting on the callout, launching authority Paddy O’Connor said: “We are delighted at the very swift response of the crew and that the casualty was located safe and well.”

Published in Rescue

#Lifeboats - Baltimore RNLI carried out a medevac on Thursday night (11 April) from Sherkin Island off the coast of West Cork.

The volunteer crew launched their all-weather lifeboat following a request from the Irish Coast Guard at 9.29pm to provide medical assistance and evacuation to an islander living on Sherkin.

Conditions at sea during the callout were calm with good visibility and no sea swell.

The lifeboat arrived at Sherkin pier at 9.45pm, the casualty was brought onboard and the lifeboat departed the island within four minutes, handing the casualty over to the care of HSE ambulance crew at 10.08pm.

Speaking following the callout, Kate Callanan, Baltimore RNLI volunteer lifeboat press officer, said: “Baltimore RNLI regularly provides the vital service of medical evacuations (medevacs) for residents and visitors to local islands such as Sherkin, Cape Clear and Heir.

“If you find yourself in need of medical assistance, call 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.”

Elsewhere, volunteer lifeboat crews from the Aran Islands and Galway RNLI participated in a multi-agency training exercise on Galway Bay this week.

The all-weather lifeboat from Aran Islands RNLI and the inshore lifeboat from Galway Bay RNLI were among the many emergency service agencies that took part in a maritime mass rescue exercise.

The scenario training, which saw the lifeboat crew practise an evacuation of survivors from a seagoing ferry in a busy shipping lane, was organised as part of a multi-agency exercise co-ordinated by the Irish Coast Guard.

Among the other agencies involved were the Irish Coast Guard rescue helicopters located at Sligo and Shannon, Doolin/Inisheer Boat Unit, Costello Bay, Killaloe, Kilkee and Cleggan Coast Guard units, Galway Fire Service and the HSE.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

An Irish Coast Guard captain lost in the Rescue 116 tragedy two years ago would be “would be so proud of the little boy” her young son has become.

The sister of Capt Dara Fitzpatrick was speaking on RTÉ Radio 1’s Ray D’Arcy Show yesterday afternoon (Wednesday 13 March) on the eve of the second anniversary of the crash that took the lives of Dara and three other coastguard helicopter crew.

Earlier this month two new stamps were issued in tribute to Capt Fitzpatrick, Capt Mark Duffy, winch operator Paul Ormsby and winchman Ciaran Smith as well as coastguard volunteer Caitríona Lucas who died on a rescue mission a few months previously.

Niamh Fitzpatrick said Dara’s son Fionn was only a baby at the time of the incident on 14 March 2017, but until her death “she gave him such a foundation, she’d be so proud of that”.

She added that the family has found the time around the anniversary “tough”, explaining: “It’s shock the first year, with the trauma, as well as grief and it’s almost like you have to deal with that first before you deal with the grief.”

TheJournal.ie has more on the story HERE.

Published in Coastguard

#Coastguard - Two new postage stamps in tribute to the Irish Coast Guard are based on a painting by a volunteer who died in service, as the Sunday Independent reports.

The painting by Caitríona Lucas, who died during a rescue operation off Kilkee in September 2016, has been adapted into a tribute to both her and the crew of the coastguard helicopter Rescue 116 who were lost in March 2017.

Two stamps show separately a rendering of the Sikorsky S-92 helicopter, and an Irish Coast Guard rescue boat similar to what Caitríona had crewed.

The commemorative stamps were launched at the GPO last week by members of the coastguard and Caitríona’s widower Bernard.

In a joint statement, coastguard units in Skerries, Dun Laighaire and Greystones said their thoughts are with the families of Caitríona, Capt Dara Fitzpatrick, Capt Mark Duffy, winch operator Paul Ormsby and winchman Ciaran Smith.

“This gesture by An Post is heartwarming to us all,” they added.

Published in Coastguard

#Lifeboats - The RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat based in Rosslare Harbour was launched at 10.38pm on Saturday night (2 March) to assist a passenger onboard an Irish Ferries vessel bound for Pembroke in Wales.

The passenger ferry Oscar Wilde, which was located 20 miles off the Wexford coast at the time, asked for assistance in evacuating a passenger who had become ill.

Sea conditions were unfavourable for the volunteers on the Rosslare Harbour lifeboat to go alongside the ferry.

The Irish Coast Guard helicopter Rescue 117 from Waterford was also tasked and quickly arrived on scene. After attempts to airlift the casualty it was deemed too dangerous.

The Oscar Wilde returned to Rosslare Europort at 1am, where an ambulance was waiting to bring the casualty to hospital. The RNLI volunteers in their Severn class lifeboat stood by the passenger ferry for the duration.

Sea conditions were very poor at the time, with a strong Force 7 to 8 gale and heavy rain.

Coxswain Eamonn O’Rourke commented that the volunteer crew of the lifeboat had to endure very challenging conditions.

Speaking afterwards, Rosslare Harbour RNLI lifeboat operations manager David Maloney said: “Conditions at sea tonight were challenging for our coxswain and lifeboat crew and I would like to commend them for their efforts in enduring a rough passage in the dark, and late at night on a Saturday evening, to be of assistance.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

As the second anniversary of the Rescue 116 tragedy approaches, it has emerged that a draft final report into the incident is still months away from completion, according to the Irish Examiner.

The four crew of the Sikorsky S-92 search and rescue helicopter were lost after the crash at Blackrock island off Co Mayo on 14 March 2017.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, Capt Dara Fitzpatrick died shortly after she was recovered from the scene. The body of Capt Mark Duffy was recovered almost two weeks later. Winch operator Paul Ormsby and winchman Ciaran Smith were lost at sea.

The latest news from the Air Accident Investigation Unit (AAUI) was an interim statement released almost a year agostatement released almost a year ago, which called for “a thorough review of search and rescue aviation operations in Ireland”.

Recommendations from a subsequently commissioned oversight review were accepted by Transport Minister Shane Ross in September last year.

The AAIU has now confirmed that a second interim statement will not be published by 14 March this year, citing work on a draft final report being “at an advanced stage”.

The Irish Examiner has more on the story HERE.

Published in Coastguard

Irish Coast Guard staff have been ordered to cease their use of blue lights and sirens with their road vehicles when travelling to incidents, as TheJournal.ie reports.

The new directive says risks associated with the use of so-called ‘blues and twos’ by coastguard vehicles “need to be mitigated”.

From now on only those trained to the highest level under the voluntary Emergency Services Driving Standard will be permitted to use lights and sirens when driving.

The directive reportedly makes no mention of any such training being provided to Irish Coast Guard personnel.

The “significant” change has been flagged as a concern by volunteers who fear they could become stuck in traffic when on route to an incident that may be a matter of life and death.

TheJournal.ie has more on the story HERE.

Published in Coastguard
Tagged under

Waves as high as two buses battered a Russian vessel off Dingle yesterday (Friday 8 February) as the Irish Coast Guard launched a double rescue during Storm Erik.

BreakingNews.ie reports on comments made by coastguard divisional controller Derek Flanagan regarding its operations to assist the Russian ship with 91 people on board, which has list power 230 miles south-west of the Kerry port town — as well as an Irish fishing vessel 120 miles west of Dingle that suffered significant damage after a large wave strike.

“Our biggest concern is the danger that these waves represent to the vessels; the likelihood of injury to crews working aboard these vessels is increased quite a lot as they try to contend with those weather conditions,” said Flanagan, who noted that the 10-metre seas faced by the Russian crew were “probably as high as too buses together”.

BreakingNews.ie has more on the story HERE.

Published in Weather

Two crew members with suspected head injuries were airlifted from a fishing vessel off Dingle yesterday (Tuesday 29 January), as the Irish Examiner reports.

The Irish Coast Guard’s Shannon-based helicopter Rescue 115 was tasked to the scene some 60 nautical miles west of Co Kerry in poor weather conditions, with winds of up to Force 6.

Both fishing crew were transferred by the coastguard to University Hospital Limerick for treatment, and it is understood there conditions are not life-threatening.

Published in Coastguard
Tagged under

Industrial action by Irish Coast Guard search and rescue pilots scheduled to begin yesterday (Thursday 24 January) has been called off to allow for further talks, as TheJournal.ie reports.

Pilots have sat down with coastguard helicopter operator CHC Ireland a number of times this week to find a resolution to a long-running dispute over rostering hours.

In a letter to the Labour Court yesterday, Brendan O’Hanlon of trade union Fórsa, whose branch Ialpa represents the pilots, wrote: “Following local last-minute discussions designated to avert the pending action, it has been agreed to defer any action to allow further engagement.”

TheJournal.ie has more on the story HERE.

Published in Coastguard
Tagged under
Page 5 of 31

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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