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Displaying items by tag: Irish Coast Guard

The Irish Mirror reports that a man has died after a fishing boat capsized off the Mayo coast yesterday afternoon (Tuesday 10 April).

It’s understood that the deceased was a man in his 50s from North Mayo. He was one of three men recovered from a life raft some 16 miles off Eagle Island after their vessel sank.

Ballyglass RNLI and the Irish Coast Guard’s Sligo-based helicopter Rescue 118 were immediately tasked to search the area when a Mayday broadcast was picked up shortly after 12.30pm.

Rescue 118 spotted flares less than an hour later and proceeded to airlift the casualties for transfer to Sligo University Hospital.

Published in News Update

#Rescue - A fishing trawler in distress off the Irish coast has been found after concerns that it had sunk, as the Irish Examiner reports.

Contact was lost with the 22m Ocean Pioneer after it was left without power some 150km off Kerry on Tuesday (27 March), and crew activated the vessel’s EPIRB emergency beacon to attract the attention of the coastguard.

The signal was picked up by the Irish Coast Guard, which dispatched the Shannon-based helicopter Rescue 115 to the trawler’s last known location.

Not long after, the fishing boat was found with its seven crew unharmed, but the Naval Service vessel LÉ William Butler Yeats was sent to guard the trawler overnight as it presented a risk to over vessels without its lights.

The Irish Examiner has more on the story HERE.

Published in Rescue
Tagged under

#Coastguard - Next year’s commemorative stamp programme from An Post will feature a tribute to the four coastguard crew lost in the Rescue 116 tragedy one year ago.

RTÉ News reports that Caitriona Lucas, the coastguard volunteer who died during a rescue mission in September 2016, will be included as part of a series paying tribute to the work of the Irish Coast Guard.

Among other stamps due in 2019 will be one to mark 100 years since the first non-stop transatlantic flight from Newfoundland to Galway by British aviators Alcock and Brown.

Published in Coastguard

#Rescue116 - The Air Accident Investigation Unit has called for “a thorough review of search and rescue aviation operations in Ireland” in the wake of the Rescue 116 tragedy one year ago.

Four Irish Coast Guard crew — Capt Dara Fitzpatrick, Capt Mark Duffy, winch operator Paul Ormsby and winchman Ciaran Smith — were lost when their Sikorsky S-92A helicopter went down at Black Rock island, off Blacksod in Co Mayo, in the early hours of 14 March 2017.

The AAIU  confirmed in January that due to the “depth and breadth” of its investigation into the incident, a final report would not be completed within the first year, and progress would be detailed in an interim statement.

Published on Friday (16 March) days after commemorations in Mayo for the four Rescue 116 crew, this statement called on the Minister for Transport to conduct “a thorough review” of air-based SAR “to ensure that there are appropriate processes, resources and personnel in place to provide effective, continuous, comprehensive and independent oversight of all aspects of these operations.”

The statement also highlighted an issue with the “coarseness” of position data recorded by the helicopter’s flight data recorder, suggesting upgrades or modifications “to ensure that the latitude and longitude information recorded on the Flight Data Recorder reflects the most accurate position information available during all flight regimes and mission profiles.”

And it urged coastguard helicopter operator CHC Ireland to conduct an internal review of its safety management systems, or SMS, after the investigation raised “concerns regarding its efficacy”.
Interim safety recommendations included in last April’s preliminary report remain open, the AAIU says.

Minister for Transport Shane Ross welcomed the publication of the AAIU interim statement on Friday, and said he has asked his department to ensure that the recommended review of SAR aviation operations “is instigated without delay”.

“The aim of this review will be to ensure that our arrangements in this regard are sufficiently robust and measure up to international best practice models,” Minister Ross added.

Noting the length of the investigation, the minister said it was “important to emphasise” that the AAIU’s work remains in progress.

“Whilst I understand the ongoing public interest in this matter, it is vital that the AAIU is given the time and space to complete its work and report on its findings,” he said. “As such, I am not in position to comment further on the issues surrounding it.”

Published in Coastguard

#Rescue116 - Today, Wednesday 14 March, marks one year since the Rescue 116 tragedy off Co Mayo.

Relatives of the four Irish Coast Guard crew lost in the crash attended a midnight vigil in Blacksod, as The Irish Times reports.

More than 100 people joined the local community in paying tribute to Capt Dara Fitzpatrick, Capt Mark Duffy, winch operator Paul Ormsby and winchman Ciaran Smith, the latter two of whom remain missing.

Events will continue today with a Mass in Tirraunt and the laying of wreaths by the Naval Service’s LÉ Niamh and Irish Lights vessel Granuaile. The Irish Times has more HERE.

Published in Coastguard

#Coastguard - Secondary school students taking part in this week’s BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition at the RSD have identified a list of errors in navigational charts used by the Irish Coast Guard’s helicopter crews.

As the Irish Independent reports, pupils from Pobalscoil Neasáin in Baldoyle, Co Dublin found that official air charts used by the coastguard had inaccurate locations for famous landmarks including Fastnet Rock and Skellig Michael.

At the same time as the Irish Aviation Authority appeals to SAR pilots to assist in making corrections to its latest charts, the second-year students flagged the mistakes in the course of their research for a prototype helicopter-mounted ultrasonic sensor.

The ‘EchoCopter’ would the terrain of the aircraft’s flight path in real time, providing supplementary data alongside the built-in EGPWS system.

It’s hoped that such a device might help avoid further tragedies such as the Rescue 116 crash last March, which took the lives of four experienced coastguard SAR crew.

The Irish Independent has more on the story HERE.

Published in Coastguard

#Coastguard - The Irish Coast Guard saved 335 lives and assisted more than 3,300 people in 2017, as RTÉ News reports.

Among the details of its end of year review, the coastguard said its volunteer units and helicopter SAR crews also assisted with recovering 65 bodies resulting from drownings or searches for missing persons.

Overall, rescue incidents handled through the coastguard’s three Marine Rescue Co-ordination Centres were marginally fewer than in 2016.

But the coastguard also noted that despite its own and others’ water safety messages, a sizeable number of those assisted in SAR incidents last year were not wearing a personal floatation device or lifejacket.

RTÉ News has more on story HERE.

Published in Coastguard
Tagged under

#Rescue116 - The Irish Aviation Authority has appealed to SAR and other pilots to help correct its latest aeronautical chart introduced this past summer, as The Irish Times reports.

The updated visual flight rules chart was published in response to the Air Accident Investigation Unit (AAIU) highlighting issues with navigation data uncovered during their investigation of the Rescue 116 tragedy, which remains ongoing.

It’s now emerged that pilots have been encouraged to report mistakes and omissions in the new chart, which is already known to indicate a number of lighthouses in the wrong positions, among other errors.

In other news, the company that operates the Irish Coast Guard’s helicopter SAR services says its future profitability could be affected by potential legal and regulatory proceedings in the wake of the incident off Co Mayo in March this year.

The Irish Independent reports that CHC Ireland added the advisory to its latest accounts published for the Companies Registration Office.

Published in Coastguard

#WaterSafety - The Irish Coast Guard and the RNLI have issued a joint safety message for the festive season to remind people to stay safe when they are in or near the water, and to remember some basic safety advice to use if they see someone in trouble or get into difficulty themselves.

Speaking ahead of the holiday period, Irish Coast Guard operations manager Gerard O’Flynn said: “Many people will be engaging in outdoor activities along the coastline. The simple safety message is: Stay Back, Stay High, Stay Dry.

“Christmas Day swims are a popular pursuit and we would urge the public to only participate in organised swims where medical support and lifeguards are available.

The three Rescue Co-ordination Centres based in Malin, Valentia and Dublin, along with the coastguard helicopter service and volunteer units, will remain operational over the holiday period.

“And we would remind the public that if you see anybody in danger at sea, on the coast or on cliffs to call 112 and ask for the coastguard,” O’Flynn added.

The RNLI’s volunteer lifeboat crews will also remain on call over the Christmas period “but what would really make them happy is if everyone has a safe Christmas,” said the RNLI’s head of engagement Gareth Morrison.

“At this time of year a lot of people take part in charity swims and the water temperature is a lot lower than in the summer months. The RNLI lifeboat crews launch to a lot of people who never expected to end up in the water when they left the house. Callouts can be to people getting cut off from the tide, to slips or falls while walking near the coastline.

“We run our drowning prevention campaign ‘Respect the Water’ all year round and ask people to follow some simple advice and know what to do in an emergency. Further information is also available at www.respecthewater.com.”

If you fall into cold water unexpectedly, remember to fight your instincts, not the water.

People follow the same instinct when in cold water - they gasp, thrash about and swim hard. But this increases chances of water entering your lungs and increases strain on your heart.

If this happens, fight your instinct and float. The initial shock will pass quite quickly within 60–90 seconds and when you have regained control of your breathing, you can then try swimming to safety or calling for help. You’ll have a far better chance of staying alive.

If taking part in a swim, always take your time to slowly walk into the sea to allow your body time to acclimatise. Stay in the shallow water when you first go in to reduce the severity of cold water shock.

If you see someone in trouble in the water, fight the instinct to go in yourself. Call 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.

If out for a walk by the water or along the coast, remember:

  • Be wary of all edges around the sea and waterside. Slips and falls happen in all locations; it is not just high cliff edges that are a risk.
  • Always let someone know where you are going and when you expect to be back.
  • Take care when walking in dark and slippery conditions.
  • Always take a means of calling for help.
  • Always check the weather and tides.
Published in Water Safety

#Coastguard - The Irish Coast Guard received a call from a member of the public yesterday evening (Sunday 5 November) who advised that two stand-up paddle boarders appeared to be in difficultly at the North Bull Wall near Dublin Port.

Dun Laoghaire Coast Guard’s team was on patrol off Sandymount at the time and were tasked to investigate, first making contact with the concerned caller.

Due to fading daylight, it was difficult to assess the SUPs’ situation and the coastguard crew had to relocate to a better position.

Assistance was also requested by incoming ferries to investigate on their passage into Dublin Port if the SUPs were indeed in difficultly.

It was quickly determined that the SUPs were riding the wake from the ferries, and eventually returned to shore once the ferries had passed.

The paddlers were part of a group that travels out daily to meet the ferries, taking off from the north side of the North Wall and staying outside of the shipping channel. All have undergone safety training and have been an asset to emergency responders at times, said Dun Laoghaire Coast Guard.

However, to some out walking in the evening, they might appear to be making no progress and this may prompt concern.

“Thankfully a safe ending to a cold evening,” said the coastguard unit.

Tagged under
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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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