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#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

#BusyBeckett - In the space of two days, LÉ Samuel Beckett has carried out three separate rescue operations involving more than 400 people in the Mediterranean off north Africa.

The first incident took place yesterday, almost 40 nautical miles off the Libyan capital, Tripoli, following a request from the Italian Maritime Rescue Co-Ordination Centre. This is where the Irish Naval Service OPV90 class vessel located and rescued a total of 299* migrants from three separate rubber vessels during search and rescue (SAR) operations.

The first rescue operation began at 08.50am and all migrants were taken on board LÉ Samuel Beckett by 12.15pm. The migrants received food, water and medical treatment where required.

On the previous day, Wednesday, LÉ Samuel Beckett carried out another SAR which saw 122* migrants from a rubber vessel again in the same area north east of Tripoli. The rescue operation began at 8.00am and all migrants were taken on board LÉ Samuel Beckett by 12.30pm. Likewise migrants recieved assistance including medical treatment where required.

LÉ Samuel Beckett transferred all rescued persons to the VOS Hestia. This vessel transported them to a port of safety and from there they were administered by Italian authorities.

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

Published in Navy

#MigrantsRescued - A total 772 migrants were rescued by LÉ Samuel Beckett from a large wooden barge during a “complex search and rescue operation” off the coast of Tripoli, Libya.

The operation writes The Irish Times was carried out on Friday following a call for assistance from the Italian Maritime Rescue Co-Ordination Centre.

The Irish Naval Service vessel located and rescued the migrants from the barge about 36 nautical miles (67km) northeast of the Libyan capital.

Afloat adds that it is a month ago since the OPV90 leadship departed Cork Harbour on the deployment to provide humanitarian duties.  

Published in Navy

#HospitalShip - The Naval Service have plans for a newbuild which would be equipped to provide full medical facilities at sea have been endorsed by Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

The Irish Times writes that a White Paper on Defence promises a multi-purpose vessel equipped with a fully functioning hospital, Mr Kenny said in Galway docks on Monday.

This would allow medical personnel to serve in “war and conflict situations”, Mr Kenny said. He was speaking at the commissioning of the Naval Service’s latest new patrol ship, LÉ William Butler Yeats.

Mr Kenny said it was “his wish” that such a multi-purpose ship – still at pre-design stage – would be built to serve in humanitarian crises. It was in “keeping with our rich tradition of charity and volunteering”, he said.

For more on search and rescues in the Mediterranean and the ceremony for the newbuild held at Galway Port, click here

Published in Navy

#OPV90named - A new Irish Naval Service vessel costing in the region of €66m has been formally commissioned at a ceremony in Galway Port, reports RTE News.

After an address by the Taoiseach at Galway Harbour yesterday, the LÉ William Butler Yeats (P63) was officially named by a granddaughter of the poet, Caitriona Yeats.

The formal commissioning followed, before Lieutenant Commander Eric Timon led the crew aboard.

The LÉ William Butler Yeats replaces the LÉ Aisling in the naval fleet, after the latter was decommissioned last May.

Afloat adds that the third OPV90 class newbuild built by Babcock Marine, Appledore in the UK had paid a visit to Dun Laoghaire Harbour in late September.

She follows leadship LÉ Samuel Beckett and LÉ James Joyce, also completed by the north Devon shipyard. In recent weeks this pair switched deployment duties in providing humanitarian operations in the Mediterranean Sea. 

 

Published in Navy

#Medals - Personnel from Irish Defence Forces writes RTE, who have taken part in humanitarian operations abroad have been presented with a new medal in Rosslare Harbour.

Minister of State with special responsibility for Defence Paul Kehoe presented the new international operational service medals at a ceremony on Saturday (15 October) in the Co Wexford port.

Troops who were deployed to counter the Ebola crisis in Sierra Leone and naval personnel who helped rescue over 3,000 people in the Mediterranean last year received the award.

Among those receiving medals today were 54 members of the permanent Defence Force who served on board the Irish Naval Service flagship LÉ Eithne from May to July in 2015.

Also awarded the medal were five members of the Army personnel who served in Sierra Leone fight against Ebola.

This was the first of a number of similar ceremonies which will be held around the country.

Published in Navy

#MigrantRescue - The Naval Service recently deployed LÉ Samuel Beckett, located and rescued a total of 130*migrants yesterday during a search and rescue (SAR) operation. The rescue took place 22 nautical miles NE of Tripoli, Libya.

The rescue operation arose from a request from the Italian Maritime Rescue Co-Ordination Centre when at 11am the migrants were brought on board LÉ Samuel Beckett, where they received food, water and medical treatment where required.

LÉ Samuel Beckett is currently awaiting further tasks. So far the OPV90 class has rescued 780 people since switching humanitarian task to the Mediterranean from sister, LÉ James Joyce which was welcomed home to the Naval Base, Cork Harbour at the end of last month. 

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

Published in Navy

#RecordRescue - Records were broken by LÉ Samuel Beckett last night with the biggest migrant total transported to safety in one single day, writes The Irish Examiner.

The Naval Service patrol ship was steaming towards an Italian port with 652 rescued men, women, and children.

People-smugglers took advantage of good weather conditions in the Mediterranean Sea yesterday as they herded people on board flimsy dinghies.

They set them afloat in the knowledge that they would either drown on the crossing from Libya to southern Europe, or be rescued by military boats or vessels run by volunteer organisations such as Médecins Sans Frontières. For more on the record migrant rescued, click here. 

Published in Navy

#JoyceReturns - The LÉ James Joyce has since this report by The Irish Times returned to Cork Harbour this morning. The OPV90 class ship was welcomed by Minister of State for Defence, Paul Kehoe following a deployment in the Mediterranean in which saw some 2,500 migrants rescued.

The ship was deployed on July 8th following Government approval as part of Ireland’s response to the migrant crisis. Defence Forces Chief of Staff, Vice Admiral Mark Mellett will be in attendance at the homecoming at Naval Base at Haulbowline, Cork.

The LÉ James Joyce, under its captain Lieut Cdr Neil Manning, rescued 2,491 people and recovered 21 deceased people. The crew assisted the Italian authorities in the rescue of a further 1,082 people. The vessel and its crew of 59 has been replaced by leadship class sister LÉ Samuel Beckett, which departed last week.

Published in Navy

#FirstVisit - LÉ William Butler Yeats, the third OPV90 class with another sister on order costing €55m, departed Dun Laoghaire Harbour having made a maiden call this weekend, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The latest OPV90 class otherwise known as the ‘Samuel Beckett’ series named after the leadship, has been in Irish waters since July following a delivery voyage to Cork Harbour from UK shipbuilder, Babcock Marine. At the time of launch, the Naval Service announced “preparatory work for the contract extension to build a fourth OPV was well underway with production due to start in August.”

As reported yesterday LÉ William Butler Yeats was alongside Dun Laoghaire's Carlisle Pier, where almost a year ago second sister, LÉ James Joyce was named at the same quay. L.É. Samuel Beckett is currently returning to the Mediterranean to replace L.É. James Joyce. She is heading back home next Friday after a three month migrant search and rescue deployment at sea. 

Adjacent of the Carlisle Pier is the East Pier, easily the more popular of Dun Laoghaire's two piers, where strollers could see the 1,900 displacement tonnes vessel. The newcomer which has a crew of 44 personal and is equipped notably with Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV). They are used for a variety of tasks, among them covert drug interdiction duties and pollution detection.

In addition the OPV's 90m long hull is to improve sea keeping characteristics, to cope when patrolling the more exposed Atlantic Ocean. At the stern there is a derrick crane and additional space for deck cargo, i.e. TEU sized containers (for stores, supplies and equipment), varying to what is required when on deployment.

The OPV90 trio represent phase one of a modernisation/ vessel replacement programme that has led all ageing ‘Emer’ OPV class decommissioned, though the disposal of LÉ Aisling remains to be seen. With the entry of LÉ William Butler Yeats, she along with her sister make up the largest of the same class out of fleet of eight, that includes a similar pair of the ‘Roisin’ class OPV80 sisters.

Next month, a twinning ceremony of LÉ William Butler Yeats is to be held next month Galway. The City of the Tribes is the adopted homeport of her direct predecessor, LÉ Aisling.

The veteran vessel likewise of her older sisters was built by Verolme Cork Dockyard, with LÉ Aisling commissioned in 1980. She would serve a 36 year career until this summer when she was decommissioned.

Page 4 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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