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#BeckettReturns - LÉ Samuel Becket (P61) has returned to Irish waters having completed her humanitarian role in search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean, writes Jehan Ashmore.

Commodore Hugh Tully, Flag Officer Commanding the Naval Service is to visit the crew of the leadship OPV90 class which arrived in Cork Harbour this morning.

It is understood her last port of call was Malaga, Spain having sailed from duties in the central Mediterranean where she was heavily involved in rescuing refugees from unseaworthy small craft off the coast of Libya. 

LÉ Samuel Beckett is this morning to berth at Haulbowline Naval Base from where she departed on deployment in September. Onboard are a crew of 58 who were joined for the humanitarian mission by two medics from the Army and the Air Corps.

The Naval Service OPV successfully rescued 1,088 people over the course of five operations in co-operation with the Italian Maritime Rescue Co-Ordination Centre.

As previously reported, the Government may deploy another naval vessel  in early 2016 to assist with the ongoing crisis.

 

Published in Navy

#FourthMedShip? - Another Naval Service ship to the Mediterranean may be sent by the Government early next year to assist with the ongoing refugee crisis after the LE Samuel Beckett completes its current tour of duty later this month, according to Minister for Defence, Simon Coveney.

Mr Coveney said the LE Samuel Beckett is due back at Naval Service HQ in Haulbowline on December 17th and a full assessment will be undertaken then on the mission which has seen the LE Samuel Beckett, the LE Eithne and the LE Niamh rescue some 8,631 refugees to date.

“I would be expecting to send a ship out at the end of February/early March next year - that would be the expectation but obviously that will be a government decision and in all likelihood it will be a new government at that stage,” he said.

To read more, The Irish Times reports also reports on possible Defence Forces deployments elsewhere.

Published in Navy

#InflatableRaft - Following an intense spate of rescuing refugees last week, LÉ Samuel Beckett carried out its latest mission in the Mediterranean yesterday when 111 people were found in an inflatable raft off Libya.

At 05:39 am Irish time the LÉ Samuel Beckett began a search and rescue (SAR) operation 32 nautical miles off the north African coast following a task assigned to the OPV by the Italian Marine Rescue Co-ordination Centre (IMRCC) to investigate an inflatable rubber craft.

At the scene, the LÉ Samuel Beckett took on board 111 people (107 males and 4 females)*. The SAR was completed at 08.34am. All people embarked are receiving food, water and medical attention where required.

Figures for yesterday's operation are provisional until they are confirmed by the Italian authorities.

Since the LÉ Samuel Beckett was deployed to the Mediterranean in late September for 'Operations Pontus',  the OPV has rescued a total 977 people (not including yesterday's SAR mission).

The leadship of the OPV90 / Beckett class is third Irish Naval Service vessel to deploy to the area of operations. The OPV has a crew of 59 personnel, including an Army and Air Corps medic and is commanded by Lieutenant Commander Anthony Geraghty.

Published in Navy

#BeckettRescues- Following yesterday's rescue by LÉ Samuel Beckett and in the transfer off 99 people to MSF Dignity 1 off Tripoli, Libra, the OPV was involved today in further humanitarian missions in the Mediterranean Sea.

This brings to a total of three consecutive days that the Naval Service has successfully carried out search and rescue (SAR) operations off the failed North Africa state.

At 4.10 am Irish time today, the LÉ Samuel Beckett located an un-seaworthy craft carrying 108* people 60 kilometres east north east of Tripoli. The LÉ Samuel Beckett was appointed on scene coordinator and using their rigid hull inflatable boats (rhibs) transferred the 108 people to the MV Bourbon Argos.

Upon completion at 7.20 am the LÉ Samuel Beckett located another vessel brought 119* persons on board from a rubber craft.

On Wednesday, at 8.15 am Irish time, the LE Samuel Beckett was appointed on scene coordinator for SAR operations 87 kilometres east north east of Tripoli, Libya.

On this first SAR of the three days of operations, the OPV with assistance from the Italian ITN Aliseo and its helicopter assets directed the Medicins Sans Frontiére (MSF) vessel MV Dignity 1 which embarked 100 people, 27 of whom are women, 3 of whom are pregnant.

The LÉ Samuel Beckett is awaiting further direction for the Italian Marine Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC.)

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

So far the LÉ Samuel Beckett has directly rescued 661 people since it's deployment, excluding today's figures.

Previous to the LÉ Samuel Beckett's deployment to the Mediterranean with OPERATION PONTUS, the LÉ Eithne & LÉ Niamh rescued 7,397 people.

Published in Navy

#CrewCommended - On a visit to Malta yesterday, Minister for Defence Simon Coveney visited L.É. Samuel Beckett currently deployed in the Mediterranean on humanitarian search and rescue operations.

Earlier in the day, the Minister met with EU Commissioner Karmenu Vella to discuss key issues in relation to fisheries and the increasing potential of the blue economy to contribute to national recovery and to the wider EU economy.

In the afternoon, the Minister visited L.É. Samuel Beckett berthed in Valetta for resupply and met with the ship’s captain, Lieutenant Commander Anthony Geraghty, and members of the crew to review the ongoing operation and to commend the important work they are doing in addressing the humanitarian fallout from the migrant crisis in the central Mediterranean.

The Minister was accompanied on his visit by Assistant Secretary General Ciaran Murphy and the Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces, Vice Admiral Mark Mellett.

Speaking to the crew on deck of L.É. Samuel Beckett, the Minister said: “While the tempo of operations in this part of the Mediterranean may have declined somewhat in the past few weeks, we cannot become complacent. As the sea condition worsens, there is an increasing risk for all those who embark on the dangerous journey from North Africa to Europe. We must continue to be ever vigilant to their plight and continue to operate to the highest standards to ensure as far as is humanly possible that all those at risk in this sea are rescued.”

L.É. Samuel Beckett replaced L.É. Niamh at the end of September and will continue Ireland’s contribution to the search and rescue mission up to December 2015, subject to ongoing assessment of the crisis and the operational need to continue to provide such assistance.

The operation is being conducted in close coordination with the Italian authorities. The vessel will not be replaced on withdrawal but a review of the mission to date and consideration of possible further participation in operations in the Mediterranean next year will be evaluated over the coming months.

L.É. Samuel Beckett with a crew of 59 Naval Service personnel including 4 Defence Forces medics drawn from the Army, Navy and Air Corps is continuing the remarkable work started by L.É. Eithne and continued by L.É. Niamh.

To date, L.É. Samuel Beckett has rescued 562 men women and children, bringing the total rescued by Naval Service vessels to date to nearly 8,100.

Addressing the crew directly the Minister said: “The work of the Naval Service to date, here in the Mediterranean, stands as testament to what a small committed country can do if there is the political will to respond. It’s not about being large or small but about commitment to serve. You, the members of this ship’s company, stand witness to the tragedy unfolding here in the Mediterranean. Not alone do you mount important rescue operations and bring hope to those you rescue, but you also focus the continuing attention of Irish and international public opinion on this crisis. I have no doubt, but that in the best traditions of the Naval Service and of the Defence Forces you will continue to do your duty.”

Minister Coveney concluded “Migration is a major challenge confronting the EU and there are no easy answers. However, Ireland is committed to doing its part as a committed member of the Union in responding to that crisis. You are a key part of that national response and, on behalf of myself and the Irish Government, I would like to thank you all for your outstanding work in the Mediterranean to date. I wish you every success for the future and a safe return to your families.”

Published in Navy

#NavalTwinning – The Munster Express writes that Waterford City and County Councillor Eddie Mulligan, has called for the twinning of Irish Navy’s newest vessel with the city.

The twinning of LE James Joyce with Waterford city the councillor said was to ‘revive a unique bond that exists between ship and the city’.

The LE Aoife, the last navy ship to be twinned with the city, was decommissioned in January (not May, Afloat adds) before it was presented to the Maltese Government.

Commenting on the twining, Cllr Mulligan stated: “In 1998 Waterford City and the Navy began a 17-year relationship that would see the LE Aoife visit the city on numerous occasions.

Click here for more on the proposed twinning of the OPV that was commissioned and named in Dun Laoghaire Harbour in September.

Published in Navy

Youghal, on the East Cork coastline, was once the biggest Irish port trading with Britain. It has a long and proud maritime history, with many men serving at sea in the naval and merchant marine. The current edition of THIS ISLAND NATION radio programme gives listeners a unique look at life aboard one of the Naval Service’s newest vessels, the LE James Joyce, built at a cost of €54m.
CRY 104FM, where THIS ISLAND NATION is produced, has been given unique access to the ship and a three-part documentary series has been made about three men from Youghal who are serving aboard the vessel. They are Chief Petty Officer Kevin Mulcahy and Petty Officers Mark Ansbro and Brian Crowley. Uniquely, another member of the Naval Service, also from Youghal – Leading Seaman Ron Coveney, in his sixteenth year of service – has been given exclusive access and permission to make a three-part radio documentary about life aboard the vessel, called: LE JAMES JOYCE – THE YOUGHAL CONNECTION. It recounts also what life is like for the families of servicemen and how they cope with life while the menfolk are at sea.

YOUGHAL SAILORS BROADCASTERS

From L-R Commander Cormac Rynne Officer Commanding Shore Operations, Series Producer LS Ron Coveney. LS Alan Cronin, CPO David Hughes, PO James McGrath.

THIS ISLAND NATION broadcasts an extract from the series which begins transmission on CRY 104 FM from Thursday October 22nd at 6.30 p.m., with the second and third parts being broadcast at the same time on October 29 and November 5. The series can also be heard online on www.cry104fm.com produced and presented by Ron Coveney, Leading Seaman in the Naval Service.
The programme also reports the success of Irish lifesavers in winning the top awards in Europe and the huge gift of €8m. which the lifeboat service has received in the form of two historic Ferraris. The reaction of Aran Islanders to winning their battle with the Government over the air service to the islands is also reported.

Published in Island Nation
Tagged under

#100rescued - Naval Service patrol ship LÉ Samuel Beckett this morning rescued more than 100 people, including two children, from an inflatable craft off the Libyan coast.

It is the second humanitarian rescue for the vessel, which took over from the LÉ Niamh at the start of the month as the Irish Defence Forces’ ship in the Mediterranean assisting with the rescue of migrants.

According to the Defence Forces an inflatable craft carrying migrants was spotted about 50km north-west off the coast of Tripoli.

For more The Irish Times reports with links to the LÉ Niamh which had carried out the humanitarian role until the 'Beckett' tookover in the same waters off north Africa. During three months on duty the crew of the 'Niamh' rescued more than 4,200 people.

The LE Niamh completed her deployment when she returned to a hero's welcome in Cork earlier this month.

Published in Navy

#NavalBudget - An allocation of €904m in Defence funding for 2016 was announced by Minister Coveney today.

The increased allocation for 2016 represents a new very significant commitment to Defence and will allow Defence to deliver on the commitments outlined in the recently published White Paper on Defence.

Minister Coveney stated: Today’s Budget announcement marks a new chapter in spending and commitment for the Defence Forces. For the past number of years it has been necessary to stabilise the economy and put the national finances on a sound footing but now Defence expenditure, linked to the White Paper on Defence, is increasing again. The White Paper on Defence sets out the roles that Government have assigned to the Defence Forces and looks at associated capability requirements. The allocation of over €900 million to Defence will enable the Defence Forces to undertake these roles with professionalism and dedication.

It will also facilitate the implementation of the White Paper proposals, including the replacement of major equipment platforms and other priorities for the Army, Air Corps and Naval Service. As previously reported on Afloat.ie this involves three new patrol ships. 

Minister Coveney emphasised the significance of the Capital allocation of €66m in 2016 and €437m over the period of the ‘Building on Recovery: Infrastructure and Capital Investment 2016-2021 Plan’. This will allow Defence to prioritise and plan for significant capital investment programmes over the coming years. Minister Coveney stated: We have had a very good outcome from the capital plan announced recently, where, over the next six years, we will see an increase in capital expenditure for Defence to a total of €437m over the life of the Capital Investment Plan.

The 2016 budgetary allocation will allow Ireland to continue to deliver on all roles prescribed for the Defence Forces, both domestically and overseas and Minister Coveney highlighted, in particular, the role played by the Naval Service in their deployment to the Mediterranean this year, as he stated: The people of Ireland can truly be proud of the work the Naval Service has done and is continuing to do and I wish them every continued success with their work. This is in addition to the ongoing high standard of performance by the Defence Forces on other overseas missions and in their various security roles at home.

Financial Overview: The gross allocation provided to the Defence Sector in 2016 is €904m: comprising of some €680m for Defence (Vote 36) and €224m for Army Pensions (Vote 35). Some €498m of the Defence Vote provides for the pay and allowances, of over 10,500 public service employees. This pay provision will allow for ongoing recruitment and the Minister has re-affirmed his commitment to maintain the strength of the Permanent Defence Force at a level of 9,500.

The non-pay allocation of €182m (including €66m in capital) provides mainly for essential and ongoing Defence Forces standing and operational costs together with the necessary procurement and upgrading of defensive equipment.

The Naval Vessel Replacement Programme continued in 2015 with the addition to the fleet of the LÉ James Joyce and the third ship purchased under the programme, the future LÉ William Butler Years, is scheduled for delivery in July 2016. This programme was advanced without recourse to additional funding and was financed through careful management of financial resources.

The Defence Vote also includes funding for the Reserve Defence Force, Civil Defence and a grant to the Irish Red Cross Society.

As regards the Army Pensions Vote, there are over 12,100 military pensioners paid by the Department of Defence. Army Pensions expenditure is largely non-discretionary and demand-driven.

The launch of the White Paper on Defence has established the strategic parameters within which Defence will operate over the next decade and Defence policy will need to be responsive to any emergent changes in the domestic and international peace and security environment.

Published in Navy

#RefugeeRescue2016 - The Irish Times reports that the Naval Service which has rescued almost 8,000 migrants in the Mediterranean is set to continue next year, according to Minister for Defence Simon Coveney.

While the deployment would likely pause in December and January, it would recommence in early spring, he added.

Mr Coveney said he remained committed to increasing the number of Defence Forces personnel serving overseas to 850.

Just under 500 are currently abroad serving with 16 international missions.

Illegal fishing

The Minister said that while the work in the Mediterranean was “valuable”, the Naval Service was not big enough to maintain patrols for illegal fishing in Irish waters to the same extent as normal while a ship was deployed off the coast of Italy.

“I make no apologies for that,” he said at the annual conference in Galway of PDforra, the group representing soldiers, air crew and sailors. “We have prioritised saving lives in the Mediterranean over fisheries protection duties, but we can’t maintain that forever.”

If the Naval Service was to have a permanent presence overseas, the number of ships in the current eight-vessel fleet would need to be reviewed.

To read on the tax-free overseas allowance PDforra has called for Naval Service members and more click here.

Published in Navy
Page 9 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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