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#NavalReview - The Defence Forces in the year of 2016 have been tasked by the Government to play a central role in the 1916 Centenary Commemorative programme.

Notwithstanding the ceremonial activities performed during 2016, Óglaigh na hÉireann maintained operations, contributing to security both at home and internationally in 15 countries and one sea tasked to the Irish Naval Service.

Below is a sample of the breadth of activities undertaken by the Defence Forces (Review) in 2016 in which the Naval Service forms on of three branches the others been the Army and Air Corps.

Afloat has concentrated on highlighting the role of the Naval Service. No fewer than three OPV continued to play a pivotal role last year in overseas missions in search and rescue (SAR) of refugees and migrants in the central Mediterranean Sea off Libya. 

*Statistics quoted are provisional to date and are subject to finalisation in the 2016 Annual Report which will be published in early 2017.

International Operations

The Defence Forces have the longest unbroken record of overseas service of any country in the world since first deploying to a United Nations mission in 1958. Some details of the Defence Forces contribution to international peace and security, on behalf of Ireland, are below:

In 2016 over 1400 Defence Forces personnel served in overseas Peace Support and Security operations in 15 countries and one sea. Currently over 600 Defence Forces personnel are serving in 15 countries.

The Defence Forces deployed three Naval ships (Afloat add they were L.E. Samuel Becket, L.E. James Joyce and L.E. Roisin) and over 150 Naval Service and Army personnel to the Mediterranean this year. This was in response to the humanitarian crisis supporting the Italian Marine Rescue Co-Ordination Centre with Search and Rescue assistance.

The total number of migrants rescued in 2016 by the men and women of Óglaigh na nÉireann was 7,029 and over 15,500 since operations began in 2015.

Domestic Operations

The Naval Service has completed over 1,200 boardings and made 3 detentions so far in 2016 for alleged infringements of fishing regulations, the Air corps conducted over 300 Maritime Surveillance Patrol flights.

The Naval Service & Air Corps patrol 220 million maritime acres of sea (over twelve times the land mass of Ireland) representing 15% of Europe’s fisheries.

Naval Service Dive Team were deployed 10 times in 2016 including seven separate Search and Recovery operations following requests from the Coast Guard and An Garda Síochána.

To also read more about the roles of the Army and Air Corps activities in the review click here.

Published in Navy

#BeckettHome - In time for Christmas with an arrival home writes The Irish Examiner. Hugs, kisses, and a few tears of joy shed as the crew of the LÉ Samuel Beckett disembarked to be greeted by loved ones yesterday after 85 days on migrant rescue operations in the Mediterranean Sea.

However, many of the sailors will forever remember the horrors they witnessed off the coast of Libya, as merciless people-smugglers knowingly send migrants to a certain death if they’re not rescued.

Ship’s captain Lieutenant Commander Darragh Kirwan said he had no doubt the migrants crammed into inflatable rubber dinghies would never have made it to Italy.

On their first day of operations, six migrants drowned as the ship went to the rescue of a group packed into a dinghy.

“Around 25% of all inflatables we came across had punctured chambers. There isn’t enough food on board them and they are only given enough petrol for 50 miles. They [people smugglers] know they are sending people to their deaths,” the senior officer said.

To add to their woes, “jackals”, as the navy term them, often prey on the migrants at sea, stealing their outboard motors and personal valuables.

For much more on the Haulbowline homecoming click here 

Published in Navy

#EuropeAward - The Irish Defences Forces were presented The European of the Year award writes The Irish Times.

The award was given by the European Movement Ireland in recognition of the Defence Forces’ contribution to international peacekeeping and humanitarian work.

The award was presented at a ceremony on Monday in Dublin’s Shelbourne Hotel by Taoiseach Enda Kenny, who is honorary president of the Movement.

“The Defence Forces have a proud history of international service for Ireland and on behalf of the European Union and the United Nations, ” he said. “They are a very worthy recipient, especially this year, when, as well as their ongoing humanitarian and peace-keeping endeavours abroad, they have played a very prominent and important role in our 1916 Centenary commemorations.”

Approximately 385 Defence Forces personnel are serving overseas at present.

For the past two years, the Naval Service has been involved in Operation Pontus, supporting the Italian Marine Rescue Co-Ordination Centre which has been overseeing a multi-lateral effort at rescuing migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea from north Africa.

Since May 2015, Defence Forces ships rescued over 15,000 would-be migrants attempting to cross the sea. The newapaper has more here.

Afloat adds that the awards ceremony took place also with yesterday's RTE One broadcast of 'The Crossing' 

With unprecedented access, The Crossing tells story of one month in the LÉ Samuel Beckett’s deployment in the southern Mediterranean. It shows the reality for both the crew and the migrants as their worlds meet in the middle of the sea, often in the most difficult of circumstances. To view click this link to the RTE iplayer here.

Following the harrowing reality of The Crossing which examined the humanitarian mission of 'Operation Pontus' RTE also had a follow-up Claire Byrne Live Extras: Defence Forces in the Mediterranean. Minister of State at the Department of Defence, Paul Kehoe, actor Liam Cunningham who is a charity ambassador for World Vision and columnist Ian O’Doherty discuss the Irish response to the migrant crisis. Are we suitably equipped to take in large numbers of refugees and how do we treat migrants who have already arrived here?

To also view this current affairs programme click here. 

LÉ Samuel Beckett which was deployed in September is to end its search and rescue missions and is due to return to Irish waters this Friday. 

 

 

 

Published in Navy

#Supertrawler - Naval Service personnel from the LÉ James Joyce have boarded a controversial fishingsupertrawler’ off the North West coast, according to the Donegal Democrat.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the 9,500-tonne FV Margiris — one of the largest fishing vessels in the world — prompted renewed fears among local fisherman and conservationists last week when it was spotted in fishing grounds off Donegal.

News of the Naval Service inspection has been welcomed by the Irish Wildlife Trust, though it cautioned on the need for a full-time inspection regime for such large-scale factory trawlers to ensure they are fishing legally and within quota, and not causing harm to protected wildlife such as dolphins.

The Donegal Democrat has more on the story HERE.

Published in Fishing

#AislingsFuture - A decommissioned Naval Service ship may be turned into a museum in Galway, writes The Connacht Tribune.

The idea of using the LÉ Aisling as a visitor attraction in the city, has been floated with Government.

Paul Kehoe, Junior Minister at the Department of Defence, this week said the request is “under consideration”.

The ship, which had been twinned with Galway City for almost 20 years, has travelled 628,856 nautical miles, the equivalent of travelling around the world more than 32 times.

It was decommissioned at a ceremony in Galway Harbour in June after 36 years of service to the State.

At the time, City Councillor Pearce Flannery (FG), the deputy mayor, suggested it could be used as a floating museum in Galway Harbour or off Salthill.

Minister Kehoe this week said he would soon make a decision as what to do with the LÉ Aisling. To read more click here.

 

Published in News Update

#AranIslands - The use of the Irish Naval Service to provide a short-term service to residents on Inis Mór (largest of the Oileán Árann /Aran Islands) is being explored by Gaeltacht Minister Sean Kyne.

As Galway Bay FM reports the proposal follows the planned withdrawal of the winter service to the largest Aran Island until March 2017, with the last ferry set to depart at 6pm this evening (yesterday, 30th November).

Operator Island Ferries Teoranta has reaffirmed it’s intention to suspend the service – citing the ‘negative fiscal conditions’ created by the local authority with the introduction of passenger levies.

For more on the developing story, click here.

Afloat.ie adds that vital sea transportation links to Inis Mór are still been maintained albeit by a cargo-only operator, Lasta Mara Teoranta. This company serves the three islands from the mainland not just out of Rossaveel in Connemara but also Galway Port.

As of this morning Afloat.ie monitored their coastal freighter MV Bláth na Mara that departed Inis Oirr bound for Galway Port's outer pier. This is the final leg of a round trip that previously included calls firstly to Inis Mór followed by Inis Meáin.

Another crises that faced islanders was in August when Lasta Mara's other freight ro-ro vessel MV Chateau-Thierry came to the aid of two of three islands with generators that were used to restore electricity. This followed power-cuts caused by a damaged subsea cable connecting the mainland. 

Published in Island News
Tagged under

#NewMedals – New International Operational Service Medals were presented to members of the Defence Forces by Minister Paul Kehoe in Dun Laoghaire Harbour at the weekend, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The medals are in recognition of their humanitarian missions overseas which included Naval Service crew members that were deployed to the Mediterranean Sea due to the migrant refugee crisis. Other members of the Defence Forces that were deployed for example in Sierra Leone, west Africa were also awarded medals.

To mark the occasion that took place on Saturday at the Carlisle Pier was berthed LE James Joyce (P62). The offshore patrol vessel (OPV) had taken part in Operation Pontus during her Mediterranean deployment until replaced in September by a sister LE Samuel Beckett.

Less than 48 hours after the award ceremony LE Samuel Beckett rescued more than 500 migrants off the Libyan coast.

Published in Navy

#MigrantsRescue - LÉ Samuel Beckett located and rescued a total of 508* migrants from four separate rubber vessels in the early hours of yesterday morning.

The search and rescue operation according to the Naval Service took place 50 nautical miles NW off Tripoli, Libya and was at the request of the Italian Maritime Co-Ordination Centre.

The first rescue operation began at 02.20am and all migrants were taken on board LÉ Samuel Beckett by 12.20pm. The 508* migrants received food, water and medical treatment where required.

This brings to 2,818* migrants rescued by the LÉ Samuel Beckett since it deployed to the area of operations on 23rd September of this year.

LÉ Samuel Beckett will now bring all rescued persons to a designated Port of Safety.

*Figures for the operation are provisional until confirmed by the Italian authorities.

Published in Navy

#ServiceMedal - International Operational Service Medals are to be presented to members of the Permanent Defense Force at a ceremony held in Dun Laoghaire Harbour.

The ceremony on Carlisle Pier (12 noon Saturday, 26 November) is in recognition of their humanitarian mission overseas. To mark the occasion the Naval Service OPV LE James Joyce (P62) will be berthed alongside. 

The event will not be open the public but can be viewed from the Harbour Plaza next to the former ferry terminal or the East Pier. 

LE James Joyce is the fifth Naval Service vessel to have been deployed since the Irish State joined the Mediterranean mission in May last year. By early September, sixteen bodies were recovered by the 59-strong crew and a total of 1,882 migrants including 56 children were rescued.

Last year the €50m OPV90 class newbuild was docked at Carlisle Pier having been named by Ms Carol Joyce who is a grand-niece of James Joyce.  

 

#MigrantRescues – Two search and rescue missions (SAR) tasked by LÉ Samuel Beckett last week saved almost 100 migrant refugees off the Libyan coast.

According to the Naval Service the most recent SAR took place on Friday night following a request from the Italian Maritime Rescue Co-Ordination Centre. LÉ Samuel Beckett located and rescued a total of 50* migrants from a rubber 25 nautical miles north-west of Tripoli. The rescue operation began at 8.05pm and all migrants were taken on board LÉ Samuel Beckett by 10.20pm. The rescued persons were transferred to the NGO vessel Bourbon Argos.

Three days previously on the Tuesday, LÉ Samuel Beckett was also deployed by the Italian authorities to locate a total of 40* migrants. Again this incident involved a rubber vessel during a the rescue operation that was conducted 44 nautical miles north east off the Libyan capital. The operation began at 11am and all migrants were taken on board the OPV90 class vessel by 1.30pm. The 40 rescued persons were transferred to another NGO vessel, the Aquarius.

This brings to 2,310* migrants rescued by the LÉ Samuel Beckett since it deployed to the Mediterranean area of operations on 23 September of this year.

 *Figures released on the days for both SAR operations are provisional until confirmed by the Italian authorities.

Published in Navy
Page 3 of 23

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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