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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

A man whose life was saved by the RNLI off the Waterford coast earlier this year, has urged people to support the RNLI’s Christmas appeal. Michael Power from Tramore had been sea swimming when he got into serious difficulty. Pulled unconscious from the water by Tramore RNLI, the lifeboat crew never gave up on him and despite his family being called to his bedside to say goodbye, Michael went on to make a full recovery. Now in thanks to the volunteer lifeboat crew that saved his life, Michael is calling on people to support his lifesavers after the RNLI have seen a drop in income as traditional fundraising activities had to be cancelled due to the pandemic.

In January this year, Michael Power set off for a swim along the Guillamene cove in Tramore, County Waterford. A regular swimmer Michael kept his head down and was aware of other swimmers in the vicinity. Not keeping an eye as he usually did on the coastline, he eventually became aware that he was not moving even after increasing his strokes. He had become caught in a rip current and could not get out of it. He tried to get to safety, but he was rapidly losing energy and began to panic. Michael subsequently learned that he had developed Hypothermia before slipping into a coma. He has no memory of the man who raised the alarm from the shore or the RNLI lifeboat crew who were on scene minutes later to find him face down in the water and unresponsive. Onlookers from the cliff watched in shock as the volunteer crew pulled him lifeless from the water and commenced CPR. His next memory is waking up in hospital with his family having been called in to say goodbye.

Now Michael wants to thank his rescuers by calling on people to support the RNLI’s Christmas appeal and donate to the charity that saves lives at sea and on inland waters. Michael has also been down to the lifeboat station to thank his rescuers in person, along with his grateful family.

Commenting on his near-drowning Michael said, ‘I am known as the miracle man around here now. I am so grateful to my rescuers and that I am here to be able to tell my story. I know the lifeboat crew who rescued me personally, as I live locally and swim in the sea regularly, so I can only imagine how difficult it was for them to pull me out of the sea in that condition. The doctors told me that I should not have survived, and that the lifeboat crew undoubtedly saved my life. So, this is my way of saying thank you.’

‘When I visited the lifeboat station, they presented me with my swimming cap and googles that they had kept safe, unsure if I would survive but unwilling to dispose of them. It was an extremely emotional moment and I have plans to frame them as a reminder of that day that I can’t even remember. I know there are so many families out there who have reason to be grateful to the RNLI and mine certainly have, they are tremendous people.’

The RNLI have launched their Christmas appeal this year as so many traditional community fundraising events such as raft races, open days and sea swims have had to be cancelled due to the coronavirus restrictions. This year the charity has spent funds on PPE, including face masks, gloves and thousands of litres of hand sanitiser. This is money the charity hadn’t budgeted for but needed to be spent to keep its lifesavers and the public protected during the coronavirus crisis.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Coosan Point on Lough Ree is home to one of Ireland’s busiest lifeboat crews. But they operate from temporary facilities and the RNLI say they urgently need a permanent, new base to continue their lifesaving missions.

The Institute is seeking donations to help fund a new, purpose-built lifeboat station and are aiming to raise €100k.

Lough Ree volunteer crews have been rescuing people from the lake’s 28km stretch of inland water since 2012, launching more than 370 times and helping over 1,060 people.

The permanent station near the existing slipway at Coosan Point – crucial for the efficient launching and recovery of the lifeboat will include

  • Secure boathouse for lifeboat, launch tractor and trailer
  • Crew training and meeting rooms
  • Changing facilities, showers and WCs
  • Offices and operations room
  • Workshop and fuel storage facilities
Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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A World War II mine found in “remarkable” condition off western Scotland earlier this week contained 350kg of explosives, according to the Royal Navy.

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

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

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

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

BBC News has more on the story HERE.

Published in Scottish Waters
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Youghal RNLI was tasked yesterday at 1.45 pm by the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre to reports of a missing person in the Ardmore Bay area of County Waterford.

Assisting the Ardmore Coast Guard Unit and Rescue Helicopter 117 in an ongoing search for a missing person, the volunteer crew launched in cold conditions, with force 4 to 5 North Westerly winds to conduct a low water search.

The Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat covered the area from Whiting Bay to Goat Island to Ram Head and into Ardmore Bay.

Due to worsening weather conditions, the lifeboat was stood down at 4.15 pm, the search will resume this morning weather permitting.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Last night Dun Laoghaire Harbour RNLI lifeboat station’s inshore lifeboat was requested to launch by the Irish Coast Guard to respond to reports of two missing divers near Bullock Harbour

The volunteer crew of three launched swiftly into the darkness at 11:06pm and made their way in the direction of Bullock Harbour arriving on scene at 11:15pm. The crew quickly assessed the situation and started to search the area around the outside of the harbour. The two casualties, who had been carrying out night diving training, were quickly located exhausted and trying to make their way back to shore having been caught by fast flowing currents.

The two divers were transferred on board and casualty care assessed by the volunteer crew. They confirmed that they were both very cold but in good health, they were taken ashore in Bullock Harbour aided by Dun Laoghaire Coast Guard Unit and then taken into the care of the National Ambulance Service.

Weather conditions at the time were described as calm with good search visibility.

Speaking following the call out, Nathan Burke Dun Laoghaire RNLI Helm said: ‘It has been Dun Laoghaire lifeboat stations busiest year to date, having been launched over 90 times with a dedicated crew turning up in numbers to every request. Tonight, was no different and our crew’s speedy response was a major factor in ensuring the outcome of this situation was a positive.’

‘The two divers and the other members of the group who were on shore did the right thing tonight by quickly contacting the Coast Guard when the two divers did not return to shore. The group also had the correct equipment for their training. Fortunately, both casualties are in good health. Our crew are very pleased with the outcome and happy to have safely returned them to shore’.

Skerries RNLI’s volunteer crew were tasked on Saturday afternoon (28 November) after a call to emergency services reported concerns over a group of sea swimmers off Donabate.

The Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat Louis Simson was launched shortly before 3pm to investigate the group’s reported position, drifting north from Donabte Beach.

Also tasked were Skerries Coast Guard and the Irish Coast Guard’s Dublin-based helicopter Rescue 116, whose crew made contact with the swimmers and determined they were not in any difficulty. All rescue crews were then stood down.

Speaking later, Skerries RNLI press officer Gerry Canning said: “There has been a marked increase in the number of people taking up sea swimming this year, and as a result there have been increased demands on all the search and rescue organisations.

“Thankfully in this case it was a false alarm, but it’s a good opportunity to remind people to be aware of the additional challenges that apply to sea swimming at this time of the year.”

Published in Water Safety
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Union Hall RNLI volunteer Brian Crowley has received an Excellence in Volunteering Award from the RNLI for his hard work, dedication to and promotion of the charity that saves lives at sea.

Unfortunately due to pandemic restrictions, the lifeboat station could not present him with his award in person but hopes to mark this achievement next year.

“This is such an achievement as Brian is volunteering with the RNLI for ‘only’ 66 years so far,” said Pamela Deasey, Union Hall RNLI’s press officer.

“He was asked then to join by Mrs Bridges in Glandore, and he said ‘Yes’ straight away. As a young man growing up in Union Hall, he was aware of the dangers of the sea, and he wanted to raise awareness and help raise vital funds for the service.”

Brian was well-known throughout West Cork at the time as he used to co-own the ever popular Crowley’s Hall in Union Hall, where many a West Cork couple met — his first undertaking as fundraiser was a dance which was a tremendous success.

He became secretary of Leap, Glandore and Union Hall branch in 1976 as well as filling in a lot of other roles, until the current branch set up in 1997.

“Words like dependable, trustworthy, selfless and courageous are the ethos of the RNLI and Brian has proved to be a great ambassador having these qualities in abundance,” Pamela added.

“This is not Brian’s first award, as he also received his silver badge for fundraising in 1985 and a gold badge in 2003. He has many a story to tell about all his years service and all the tremendous characters he has met along his way.”

Speaking following news of the award, Mick McKenna, chair of fundraising at Union Hall RNLI, said: “Everyone at Union Hall RNLI would like to firstly congratulate Brian for this much deserved award, and secondly thank him for all his time, efforts and dedication throughout all these years, in helping to raise vital funds for the RNLI. We are all extremely proud of his achievements.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Sligo Bay RNLI’s volunteers were called to the rescue of four swimmers in difficulty off Rosses Point yesterday afternoon, Sunday 22 November.

The four women, who were all seasoned swimmers, were caught in a swell when trying to get back ashore.

A number of onlookers on the beach called for the emergency services and both Sligo Bay RNLI’s lifeboat and the Irish Coast Guard’s Sligo-based helicopter Rescue 118 were dispatched to the scene.

One of the four swimmers managed to get ashore unaided in the meantime, while one other was rescued by the volunteer lifeboat crew who administered casualty care en route to the lifeboat station where she was passed into the care of an ambulance crew.

The other two casualties were airlifted to safety by the crew of Rescue 118. All four swimmers were taken to Sligo General Hospital for assessment, as Sligo Bay RNLI reports.

Aisling Gillen, Sligo Bay RNLI’s volunteer lifeboat press officer, said: “We received a lovely message from one of the swimmers last night to thank us for saving their lives which was very kind and we would like to wish them all well.

“Seasoned open water swimmers have a great deal of experience and do observe proper safety precautions. However, the dangers this time of the year far outweigh the challenges that apply in summer. Cold water and currents can tire a swimmer quickly and make it harder to return to shore.”

One hour after this incident, the Sligo Bay lifeboat crew received a second call — this time to a surfer in difficulty at Strandhill, but who was able to make his own way ashore as the lifeboat stood by.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Page 6 of 219

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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