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Displaying items by tag: Operation Sophia

#navy - The deployment of patrol vessels by the Naval Service is to end in the EU's big migrant rescue operation in the Mediterranean.

The move writes Independent.ie follows a decision by the EU to stop maritime patrols of the sea between north Africa and Europe and to focus, instead, on air patrols and closer co-ordination and co-operation with Libyan authorities.

Naval vessel, LE Eithne, with a crew of about 60, was due to return to the Mediterranean at the end of the month.

But the patrol vessel will now remain at home after previously being involved in the rescue of more than 500 migrants from the Mediterranean.

The mandate for the operation, codenamed Sophia, was due to expire on Sunday but will now be extended for a further six months with a similar aim of disrupting people smuggling and trafficking in the Med.

More on the story can be read here.

Published in Navy

#NavalService - LÉ James Joyce completed a 100 day tour of duty in the Mediterranean Sea as part of EUNAVFOR-Med, Operation Sophia, having returned yesterday to its homeport of Cork Harbour to be welcomed by families and loved ones alongside the quay.

Also in attendence at the Irish Naval Service Base on Haulbowline Island, was Minister with Responsibility for Defence, Mr. Paul Kehoe T.D and by the Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces, Vice Admiral Mark Mellett DSM. 

The Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) P60 class, Commanded by Lieutenant Commander Martin Brett, and a crew comprising of 57 members of the Defence Forces received a warm welcome from family, friends and colleagues at the base's Oil Wharf facing Cobh. 

LÉ James Joyce became the third Naval Service ship deployed to the Mediterranean as part of Operation Sophia when the OPV departed in early July.

The ship's mission also included in conducted the hailing of more than 200 merchant ships, 6 friendly approach visits as previously covered on Afloat and 2 inspections.

The activities were all in support of the UN Arms Embargo off the coast of Libya, Africa as part of the EU’s comprehensive approach to disrupt trafficker/smuggler networks within the Mediterranean.

In advance of the homecoming of the OPV, Afloat.ie adds berthed at Cobh was newbuild sister LÉ George Bernard Shaw along with LÉ William Butler Yates. 

 

Published in Navy

#NavalService - The Tánaiste Simon Coveney has ruled out suspending Ireland's Naval Service involvement in the Mediterranean migrant rescue mission and bringing crews home to deal with staff shortages.

As The Irish Times writes, Independents4Change TD Clare Daly claimed “the service is in meltdown”, said that for the first time in its history the service was unable to do its core function of sea fisheries protection.

She suggested it was time suspend the State’s participation in Operation Sophia and bring staff home to “protect our sea fisheries and coastal waters”.

She was commenting after it emerged that senior Naval personnel were ordered to end the 72 hours notice personnel normally got to provide short-term relief on ships and that personnel would have to be ready for duty without warning.

The order was subsequently rescinded.

The Dublin Fingal TD said that ships normally crewed by 44 personnel were putting to sea with 34 and she asked if it was time to bring the crew members home from Operation Sophia.

For further reading on Operation Sophia, click the link to the newspaper here.

Published in Navy

#NavalService - The Irish Times writes the Department of Defence denied that a Naval Service patrol ship was involved in any NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) exercise or operation during a manoeuvre with a Spanish frigate in the Mediterranean earlier (last week).

An exercise between Naval Service patrol ship LÉ James Joyce and a Spanish frigate Cristobal Colon prompted a tweet from the Spanish defence ministry with hashtag “We are NATO” last Monday.

The Department of Defence said the Cristobal Colon was providing support to “Operation Sophia”, the EU naval force mission in the Mediterranean, when it spent time with the LÉ James Joyce.

It confirmed that the Spanish frigate was transiting the Central Mediterranean en route to join up with the Nato-led “Operation Sea Guardian”.

For more on this story, the newspaper has a report here. 

Published in Navy

#NavalService - Previously on Afloat, the Irish Naval Service P60 class LÉ James Joyce was featured conducting 'Friendly Approaches', this time the OPV is seen pictured above undergoing a replenishment at sea (RAS) exercise.

The Offshore Patrol Vessel, LÉ James Joyce was deployed last month to join Operation Sophia/EUNAVFOR (European Union Naval Force). The EU led mission is to combat and disrupt people-trafficking in the central Mediterranean Sea off north Africa.

Due to the large distances at sea during Operation Sophia, naval vessels from other participating EU member states also involve RAS. The above exercise involved the auxiliary tanker that Afloat.ie has identified as the German Navy's FGS Mosel. The 1993 built vessel is the second of a quartet of Type 404 'Elbe' class tanker tenders. 

Auxiliary tankers such as 3,586 displacement FGS Mosel carry out bunkers, a nautical term to supply fuel to ships. In addition the tender is designed to provide fresh water, ammunication and general supplies that can be stored in containers as seen above on the deck.

Published in Navy

#NavalService - As previously reported on Afloat, LÉ James Joyce last month was deployed to the central Mediterranean to take over Operation Sophia duties which also involve 'friendly approaches'

The Irish Naval Service P60 class Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) replaced a sister, LÉ Samuel Beckett which had worked alongside other EU member states navies participating in the migrant mission. Ireland first became involved in Operation Sophia last year.

The core tasks of Operation Sophia / EUNAVFOR -Med is designed to combat and disrupt people-smuggling in addition to saving lives in seas off Libya, north Africa. In addition the role of friendly approaches is included. According to the Naval Service they provide an opportunity of interact face-to-face with members of the merchant vessels’ community who regularly transit in the area of naval operations.

Friendly approaches enable in providing messages on the operation and to collect useful information on what is happening at sea.

Prior to a friendly approach is conducted, the opportunity is at first given as an invitation of the Master of the vessel. In addition the vessels do not form any part of boarder control or inspection process.

The overall level of awareness arising from friendly approaches provides Operation Sophia to be more effective having assessed such operational activity and interacting with merchant ships in a personal manner.

Since the UN arms embargo off the Libyan coast began in 2016, Operation Sophia assets have carried out 117 friendly approaches.

Published in Navy

#NavalService - Naval Service crew from offshore patrol vessel (OPV) LÉ Samuel Beckett arrived home to a heroes welcome today after three months in the Mediterranean on humanitarian rescue operations.

The vessel writes Independent.ie is under the command of Lt Cmdr Eoin Smyth, was cheered to the echo as it rounded Roche's Point in Cork harbour and berthed at Haulbowline Naval base.

Lining the quayside were the families of the 54 crew members - including dozens of children who had missed their enlisted parents since the deployment last May.

LÉ Samuel Beckett was the second Irish patrol ship to deploy to the Mediterranean this year as part of Ireland's commitment to Operation Sofia, the European mission to help migrants attempting to cross from north Africa to the EU.

The OPV has been replaced on station as Afloat previously reported in the Mediterranean by LÉ James Joyce.

For further reading on the return of LÉ Samuel Beckett, click here. 

Published in Navy

#NavalService- LÉ James Joyce is currently in the Mediterranean having departed Cork Harbour almost a week ago to replace the first Irish Naval Service ship to be deployed to Operation Sophia during this year, writes Jehan Ashmore.

Prior to the departure last Friday, Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces Vice Admiral Mark Mellett DSM, bid farewell to the crew LÉ James Joyce. The Offshore Patrol Vessel was berthed at the oil wharf at Haulbowline Naval Base in preparation for the overseas deployment.

In recent days, LÉ James Joyce was offshore of Algeria and today is heading further eastward towards the cental Mediterranean. The second of the OPV90 class offshsore patrol vessels will takeover duties from LÉ Samuel Beckett which in March began deployment for Operation Sophia.

Last year the OPV80 class LÉ Niamh was deployed as the first Irish Naval Service ship in Operation Sophia, an EU led mission designed to disrupt people-trafficking in Libya in addition to saving the lives of migrants.

LÉ James Joyce is under the Command of Lieutenant Commander Martin Brett. A total of 57 personnel make up the crew from members of the Defence Forces. They will be on extended deployment since receiving notice that they would be sailing to assist Operation Sophia which involves other navies from participating EU member states.

Published in Navy

#Navy - Crew members of L.É. Samuel Beckett in Malta last weekend were presented with their Operation Sophia medals from the Irish Naval Service, writes Jehan Ashmore.

Flag Officer Commanding Naval Service (FOCNS) Commodore Michael Malone visited Valletta Harbour last weekend to present the medals to the crew who since April have been deployed in the Mediterranean. 

Since the fallout from Libya's boat people trafficking in 2015, the EU launched as a military operation the European Union Naval Force Mediterranean (EUNAVFOR Med) also known as Operation Sophia. The name of the operation was inspired from Sophia, a baby born on board a German Navy frigate whose mother, a Somali refugee was rescued initially by the UK'S Royal Navy.

The 2014 commissioned OPV90 leadship L.É. Samuel Beckett is the second Irish Naval Service patrol ship to take part in Operation Sophia which began last October. On that occasion, OPV80 'Roisin' class LÉ Niamh made history as this was the first time that Ireland joined the EU naval operation tasked against smugglers and traffickers.

Unlike previous other humanitarian missions focusing on Search And Rescue (SAR) of refugees, Operation Sophia among its remit addresses some of the root causes of human-trafficking and migration crisis.

The deployment of LÉ Niamh for Operation Sophia ended late last year. Taking over duties in April this year saw L.É. Samuel Beckett join the EU naval fleet task force comprising of 10 participating member-states.

Following the FOCNS overseas visit to Malta, Commodore Michael Malone conducted another ceremony held in the Naval Base on Haulbowline Island, lower Cork Harbour. This involved an  annual inspection of L.É. James Joyce. The second OPV90 class commissioned into service in September 2015 was followed by L.É. William Butler Yeats in October 2016.

 

Published in Navy

#Navy - Leadship of the Irish Naval Service OPV90 class, LÉ Samuel Beckett is departing today for the Mediterranean to take part in 'Operation Sophia'.

As The Irish Examiner reports, Ireland first joined the EU naval operation against smugglers and traffickers last October when another Offshore Patrol Vessel, the OPV80 class LÉ Niamh was deployed for a three-month mission.

Minister with Responsibility for Defence Paul Kehoe says the crew will be helping to address some of the root causes of migration and human trafficking.

For more click this link. 

Published in Navy
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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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