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Displaying items by tag: Lifeboats

Skerries RNLI’s volunteer crew had a busy weekend responding to calls to stranded walkers on Friday (22 January) and a missing swimmer today (Sunday 24 January).

Shortly before 4.30pm on Friday afternoon, Dublin Coast Guard tasked Skerries RNLI following a call from An Garda Síochána reporting that a number of people had been cut off by the rising tide on Barnageeragh beach.

The lifeboat was launched and proceeded to the area indicated, where the crew quickly spotted one adult and three children at the base of the cliff above the waterline.

While the casualties were uninjured, conditions underfoot in the area were very poor due to a large number of submerged rocks covered in seaweed and algae.

Following a consultation with members of the Skerries Coast Guard unit who were at the top of the cliff, it was decided that due to the falling temperatures and rapidly fading light, the safest option would be to request the assistance of the Dublin-based Irish Coast Guard helicopter Rescue 116.

A crew member stayed with the casualties to reassure them and keep them calm until the helicopter arrived and winched them aboard.

Then today, Sunday 24 January, the volunteer crew were paged shortly after 12.30pm following a call from a concerned family member when a swimmer in Skerries had not returned at the expected time.

The lifeboat launched immediately and made its way around the headland to the swimming platform known locally as The Springers.

Upon arrival it was quickly established that the swimmer had since made it safely ashore. They were well equipped for cold water swimming and required no assistance. The lifeboat was stood down and returned to the station.

Speaking about the callouts, which came a week after the town’s first of the year, Skerries RNLI’s Gerry Canning said: “Friday afternoon was a fantastic example of how well all the emergency services work together, with full-time emergency service personnel and volunteers working alongside each other seamlessly to get the best possible outcome.

“Thankfully the call for the swimmer on Sunday was a false alarm with good intent. We encourage anyone who thinks someone may be in difficulty in or near the sea to dial 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard. The earlier they make that call the better.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Skerries RNLI carried out their first rescue of the new year in the early hours of yesterday morning (Saturday 16 January), towing a razor fishing boat with two men on board to safety.

Shortly before midnight on Friday, Dublin Coast Guard requested Skerries RNLI to launch their Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat following a distress call from a razor fishing vessel that had suffered mechanical failure off the north Co Dublin coastal town.

The lifeboat was launched and the volunteer crew navigated to the GPS position provided by the vessel. A tow was established and the vessel was towed back to the safety of the harbour in Skerries.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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The RNLI is urging anyone who is able under Irish or UK government guidelines to visit the coast during lockdown to stay safe and not take any unnecessary risks that may put extra pressure on emergency services.

As both the UK and Ireland enter new nationwide lockdowns, RNLI lifeboats will continue to launch.

However, every time a lifeboat crew is called to an incident, it puts additional pressure on RNLI volunteers and other frontline emergency services. In addition to this, it also potentially exposes them to Covid-19.

Gareth Morrison, RNLI head of water safety, said: “During lockdown, RNLI lifeboats and stations remain operational and will launch around the clock where there is risk to life.

“We would encourage everyone to follow the latest government guidelines on what they are able to do and where they are able to go during lockdown.

“But for anyone visiting a coastal area, please understand the risks to be as safe as possible and not put unnecessary strain on frontline services.

“No one ever heads to the coast with the expectation of needing to be rescued, yet rescues are occurring every day.

“In a normal year around 150 people lose their lives at the coast and we know that more than half of those never intended to be in the water.

“So, whether you are walking, running or cycling at the coast, or doing some activity on or in the water, please be extra responsible and avoid taking unnecessary risks.”

The RNLI and HM Coastguard last month launched a winter coastal safety campaign to highlight the dangers of stormy seas, changing tides and cliffs at this time of year.

Morrison added: “Our beaches and coastal areas may see an increase in visitors in the days and weeks to come, so we’re urging everyone to follow our advice and stay safe.

“In particular at this time of year, we ask people to stay well back from stormy, wintery seas and cliff edges, check tide times before you go, take a phone with you, and call 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard if you or someone else is in trouble.”

The RNLI’s key water safety advice is:

  • Take care if walking near cliffs – be aware of ice and frost, know your route and keep dogs on a lead.
  • Check tide times daily.
  • Take a full-charged phone.
  • If going afloat, always wear a lifejacket or other personal flotation device and take a means of calling for help.
  • Check your equipment is in good working order.
  • Be aware of the conditions and your capabilities and only enter the water if it is safe to do so.
  • In an emergency call 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.
Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Bundoran RNLI’s volunteer lifeboat crew were requested to launch yesterday afternoon (Tuesday 22 December) to reports of a 19ft vessel that had sunk off Killybegs.

Also tasked to the scene were the Sligo-based Irish Coast Guard helicopter Rescue 118 as well as the Killybegs Coast Guard RIB, while help was sought from other vessels in the area.

On arrival, the lifeboat crew found that two people who had been on the sunken vessel had already made their way to safety and were treated by an ambulance at the Killybegs slipway.

The lifeboat then assisted the coastguard RIB in securing the vessel.

Lifeboat helm Rory O’Connor said: “Thanks to quick actions of all involved, this was another successful outcome and the two people will get to spend Christmas with their loved ones.

“It’s another example of inter-agency cooperation and we were glad to be able to assist our Irish Coast Guard colleagues.”

The incident came just two days after another inter-agency operation to rescue a man whose small boat ran aground on rocks in Ballyshannon, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Arklow RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat Ger Tigchlearr taking a stricken fishing vessel under tow | Photo: RNLI/ArklowArklow RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat Ger Tigchlearr taking a stricken fishing vessel under tow (Photo: RNLI/Arklow)

In other lifeboat news, Arklow RNLI launched to the aid of two fishermen on a vessel in distress last Thursday 17 December.

As the volunteer crew of six were en route, further reports came in that the fishing vessel had freed the foul but was adrift and dragging its anchor — and in danger of being driven up onto the rocks at Kilmichael Point.

Once on scene, the lifeboat crew worked quickly with the casualty vessel’s crew of two to establish a tow line, before the vessel was towed safely back to Arklow.

Following the incident, Arklow RNLI community safety officer Mark Corcoran gave a special shoutout to coxswain Eddie McElheron on his first callout in command of the all-weather lifeboat Ger Tigchlearr.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Volunteers from Bundoran RNLI were part of a multi-agency operation to rescue a man whose small boat ran aground on rocks in Ballyshannon yesterday afternoon (Sunday 20 December).

The man raised the alarm from his boat which had run aground off the island of Inis Saimer just before 1pm, and Malin Head Coast Guard requested the launch of Bundoran’s lifeboat as well as the Sligo-based Irish Coast Guard helicopter Rescue 118.

However, it was determined that sea conditions would render it unsafe for the inshore lifeboat to get across the bar at the end of the Erne Estuary.

Instead, four lifeboat crew travelled by road to Ballyshannon where an Inland Fisheries Ireland patrol boat was already close to the casualty vessel.

Together the fisheries officers and lifeboat volunteers evacuated the man from his boat and brought him safely to shore and the into the care of paramedics.

In the meantime, the Bundoran lifeboat was transported by road under Garda escort to Ballyshannon, where it was launched and towed the casualty boat away from the rocks.

Bundoran lifeboat helm Michael Patton said: “This was another good outcome with the cooperation of our colleagues at Rescue 118, Inland Fisheries [Ireland], the National Ambulance Service and the Garda Siochana.

“We were glad to be able to get the man safely off the boat and return his boat to him.

“He was also wearing a lifejacket, and we would remind anyone taking to the water that this is an essential piece of equipment anytime you set sail.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Dunmore East RNLI volunteer lifeboat crewman Paul Sheehan was recently recognised for a community volunteer award by his employer after being nominated by his co-workers.

Paul is a general operative with Bausch and Lomb in Waterford, which recently held an open competition among employees to highlight some of the volunteer work they regularly conduct outside of work.

The dedicated volunteer crew with Dunmore East RNLI for 14 years was nominated by some of his co-workers — and his employers honoured him with a community volunteer award and a donation of €500 to Dunmore East RNLI.

Margaret Barry, chair of the Dunmore East RNLI fundraising branch, said: “Our volunteer crew are an extremely dedicated bunch and it is lovely to see Paul being deservedly recognised, by his employer, for his many years of lifesaving efforts with Dunmore East RNLI.

“We are very grateful to receive any donations, as this year has been a particularly difficult year for our fundraising efforts. Donations like this will enable our charity’s lifesavers to continue to save lives at sea.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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What started as a small fundraiser for Galway RNLI and Cancer Care West has turned into something spectacular as the players and members of Galway Corinthians RFC have raised over €8,500 for both organisations through two fundraising efforts.

The first featured the senior players in the club with Jack Noone and Kenneth Casburn behind the organisation of ‘Movember’ where players, management and committee members grew facial hair of some kind for the month of November.

The second featured the mercurial talents of club president Kieran Faherty.

Known fondly as ‘Flash’, Kieran is an accomplished artist and he generously provided one of his paintings known as ‘Brewing Up A Storm’, a stunning view of Galway Bay that has proved very popular with prints and cards selling out quickly.

But what inspired the painting? “I am often asked that,” Kieran says. “Pretty much my signature pieces are all about colour, and Connemara is my inspiration for many.

“As a kid I only saw greyness in the Connemara landscape, but age opens your eyes. Now I embrace all the wonderful changing coloured landscape that the mountains, bogs and lakes give up to us.”

He added: “I think my inspiration for this piece is the challenges it offers, as it sits in stormy waters, and I think appropriately it is raising funds for a charity that lives in stormy waters with their incredible brave crew.”

The fundraising has been warmly welcomed by both organisations, with Mike Swan, Galway RNLI lifeboat operations manager, saying: “I wanted to express my personal gratitude for the effort of the members of Corinthians Rugby Club and thank them for their very generous donation, of which will be put to good use saving lives at sea.

“Given the year that’s in it, the crew are overwhelmed with the support from the people of Galway.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

The families of RNLI lifeboat volunteers have joined an all-Ireland appeal for support after the charity’s usual Christmas fundraisers were cancelled.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the charity that saves lives at sea launched its 2020 Christmas appeal as so many traditional community fundraising events such as raft races, open days and sea swims have had to be called off due to coronavirus restrictions.

In Donegal, Lorraine Cassidy’s husband James and sons Nathan (22) and Oisin (21) are all volunteer crew members on Bundoran RNLI’s inshore lifeboat. They know all too well how important it is for crews to have the right lifesaving kit and PPE.

Nathan adds: “RNLI volunteers have had a challenging year but thankfully, with many additional safety measures and procedures in place to ensure our safety, we have remained on call 24/7 throughout the pandemic.

“We have our standard PPE but now also wear masks and gloves and take extra precautions at sea. We know the extra PPE comes at a financial cost to the charity and during a time when fundraising activity has had to be halted.”

Further south are Robert and Colette Foster, whose daughter Caoimhe (20) is a volunteer crew member on Crosshaven RNLI’s inshore lifeboat.

“We are very proud that Caoimhe has been a volunteer lifeboat crew member in Crosshaven for three years now,” her father Robert says. “Our son Cillian (17) is also joining the crew but due to Covid-19, won’t be starting his training until next year.

“Our youngest Clodagh is 12 and having watched Caoimhe’s involvement in the last few years, she is already aspiring to be part of the future crew.”

In East Cork, Mark Nolan has been a volunteer at Youghal RNLI for 23 years, first as a crew member on the station’s inshore lifeboat where he served for 13 years before moving to shore crew. In 2017 he became a deputy launching authority where, among his tasks, he authorises the launch of the station’s lifeboat when the alarm is raised.

Mark’s son Jack (22) followed in his father’s footsteps five years ago when he, too, joined the lifesaving team in Youghal.

“You worry when the pager beeps and you are responsible for authorising the launch of the lifeboat,” Mark says. “While Jack is my son, I would have similar concerns for all crew members who go out on the lifeboat to save others who are in trouble at sea.”

Jason Chambers and his wife Lauren received a special guard of honour from Portrush RNLI after their wedding last week (Photo: Mairéad McDaid/Remain In Light Photography)Jason Chambers and his wife Lauren received a special guard of honour from Portrush RNLI after their wedding last week | Photo: Mairéad McDaid/Remain In Light Photography

For Portrush RNLI relief mechanic Jason Chambers and his wife Lauren (McGee), who is a professional wedding photographer, 2020 has been a year like no other.

The couple who have two children, Tyler (9) and Isla (5), were originally due to get married on 18 April but when Covid-19 restrictions came in shortly after they returned from their hen and stag parties, they were forced to postpone and rethink their plans.

A stressful few months later and amid restrictions changing regularly, the couple eventually got their big day last week.

And much to Jason’s surprise and delight, four fully kitted-out lifeboat crew members representing the station were waiting outside the Arcadia in Portrush following the ceremony to provide a socially distant guard of honour to wish the couple well.

Lauren is also well used to family events being interrupted by the pager. And this Christmas will be no different for the Chambers.

“From the moment I met Jason, the RNLI pager became a part of my life, too. The lifeboat has always been in Jason’s blood and he comes from a long family line who have been involved in helping to save lives at sea for generations.

“It can be difficult seeing Jason leave when the pager goes, and he heads for the lifeboat. I worry about what he might go through when he is out on a shout. Even at Christmas, we know that he might have to drop everything like the other volunteers in Portrush, Red Bay or Larne and run out the door to go and save someone’s life.”

The same goes for Sue and Peter Irwin, longtime volunteers with Donaghadee RNLI, whose son Jack is a volunteer on Bangor RNLI’s inshore lifeboat.

“However, I also know how important the crew member’s role is and how rewarding it is for Jack to make his contribution just as it was for Peter and is for me as a fundraiser,” Sue says.

“The RNLI depends on the goodwill of others to support the work our volunteer crews do and that is why as a family, we would urge people if they can, to give to the Christmas appeal.”

Meanwhile, for one teenager who has helped out where he can at Kilkeel RNLI since he was a child, this year Christmas will be extra special as he will finally be eligible to join the crew on his 17th birthday on Christmas Eve.

Andrew Young’s father Gary has been a RNLI volunteer for the last 32 years. Watching his father work as station mechanic and helm, Andrew was inspired to become a crew member at a young age and is now looking forward to making his own contribution.

“I have been coming to the station with Dad for years and I always loved watching the crew prepare and train between call outs,” Andrew said. “I have helped out where I can but I am really excited now to start my own training to become a crew member and I will look forward to the day that I, too, can help bring someone in difficulty to safety.”

All families share pride in their loved ones’ lifesaving efforts, but they also worry when the pager beeps and they’re called out to save others who are in trouble.

The sense of relief when they help to bring those in difficulty back to safety, but also when they return home safety themselves, is one that they all feel.

And they’re united in declaring that the best Christmas gift they can wish for is any kind of donation, no matter how small, to the RNLI Christmas appeal.

Funds raised will provide the lifesaving kit volunteers so need to continue to help saving lives at sea. For more visit RNLI.org/Xmas

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

A World War II mine found in “remarkable” condition off western Scotland earlier this week contained 350kg of explosives, according to the Royal Navy.

The unexploded ordnance was discovered by a Marine Scotland survey vessel in the Firth of Clyde on Tuesday afternoon (1 December).

Belfast Coastguard tasked Troon RNLI to the scene, north-east the Isle of Arran, to retrieve non-essential personnel from the 68m survey vessel and bring them to safety on the lifeboat.

As BBC News reports, the survey vessel was then sailed to Ettrick Bay on the Isle of Bute, where bomb disposal experts carried out a controlled explosion of the mine.

“From the initial pictures, we were able to easily identify the mine type and importantly determine that the explosive fill was intact and therefore presented a significant hazard,” said Lieutenant Commander Mark Shaw of the Royal Navy.

BBC News has more on the story HERE.

Published in Scottish Waters
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Staff at the Marine Institute are attempting to walk, run, row, cycle and swim the 4,068km distance from their headquarters in Galway to the North Pole in aid of the RNLI.

And they’re inviting everyone to join in and support their virtual festive fundraising challenge, which runs until Friday 18 December.

“Many of our colleagues and those that we work with spend much of their time at sea,” says Marine Institute chief executive Dr Paul Connolly. “Knowing that the emergency services are there should we need them is a huge comfort for all who use the ocean whether for work or for pleasure.

“This year has been difficult for many and especially hard also for charities such as RNLI Lifeboats Ireland. For these reasons, as an organisation the Marine Institute decided that together we could do our bit to support the RNLI and have a bit of festive fun while we are at it.”

It costs the RNLI €1,650 to train a volunteer lifeboat crew member for a year, and €1,764 to kit them out in their lifesaving gear — so every euro raised counts.

“We are asking the public to consider adding their kilometres to our fundraiser and making their steps or swims count. Together we can make this an easy downhill and raise much needed funds for RNLI lifeboats,” Dr Connolly adds.

If you want to take part, commit some kilometres to the 4,000km total or choose to donate. And don’t forget to post your challenge photos on social media, tagging the Marine Institute on Twitter or Facebook and using the hashtag #NorthPoleChallenge

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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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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W M Nixon - Sailing on Saturday
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