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Displaying items by tag: SAR

A survey by the International Maritime Rescue Federation (IMRF) has been launched to try to understand the current gender balance in search and rescue (SAR) organisations all around the world - whether paid professional or volunteer, national, regional or local.

The IMRF is the international NGO working to develop and improve maritime search and rescue (SAR) capacity and capability around the world. A membership organisation with members located across all continents, it organises training, shares best practice and act as the voice of the industry.

However, there is currently no definitive study that assesses the level of representation of women in the SAR sector, or looks at the roles that they fill. As a result, the IMRF has developed a survey to ask both women and men working in SAR about their experiences, work and aspirations.

Theresa Crossley, CEO IMRF explains: “Quite simply if we want to try and make sure there’s equality of opportunity across the sector, first we need to understand what the current status is, what the barriers are and where those opportunities may be.

“We are asking anyone who works in maritime search and rescue – and that could be front line operations or back office support, full or part time, volunteer or professional, male or female, to complete the survey. It only takes about five minutes, but the information will be incredibly useful in helping us to plan the next steps. We want to ensure that everyone has an equal opportunity to get involved and/or build the career they want in this inspiring sector. The link to the survey can be found on our home page www.imrf.org.uk ”

The #WomeninSAR initiative was launched last year (2019), supporting the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) Empowering Women in Maritime initiative. The project aims to increase the representation of women in the maritime sector and to support and raise the profile of women in maritime search and rescue. Last year a new IMRF #WomeninSAR award was launched to recognise exceptional leading women in the sector at the annual IMRF Awards and the first all-women training was held in Morocco in conjunction with the IMO.

The IMRF #WomeninSAR survey can be found here:

Published in Coastguard

Vertical Magazine has shared video of a roundtable discussion on helicopter rescues from earlier this year, featuring a member of the Rescue 116 crew with the Irish Coast Guard.

Helicopter winchman Derek Everitt was in attendance at the HAI Heli-Expo in Anaheim, California this past January, where he took part in a talk with fellow professionals about their ‘life on the wire’.

He was joined by Montana-based air rescue specialist Wil Milam, fire rescue pilot Tony Webber, Canadian rescuer Rob Munday, Las Vegas police flight instructor Dave Callen and hoist operator and paramedic Jason Connell.

The wide-ranging discussion, which can be seen in the video above, included their most memorable rescues — and some of the biggest mistakes they’ve learned from.

For Everitt, his most memorable “screw-up” was as young crewman with the Air Corps involved an unplanned landing at a mountain crossroads for his pilot to impress a high-ranking friend — with embarrassing results.

Vertical has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Rescue

Industrial action by Irish Coast Guard search and rescue pilots scheduled to begin yesterday (Thursday 24 January) has been called off to allow for further talks, as TheJournal.ie reports.

Pilots have sat down with coastguard helicopter operator CHC Ireland a number of times this week to find a resolution to a long-running dispute over rostering hours.

In a letter to the Labour Court yesterday, Brendan O’Hanlon of trade union Fórsa, whose branch Ialpa represents the pilots, wrote: “Following local last-minute discussions designated to avert the pending action, it has been agreed to defer any action to allow further engagement.”

TheJournal.ie has more on the story HERE.

Published in Coastguard
Tagged under

The Irish Times reports that helicopter search and rescue pilots with the Irish Coast Guard are to take industrial action from Thursday (24 January) in a dispute over rostering hours.

Brendan O’Hanlon of trade union Fórsa, whose branch Ialpa represents the pilots, said the issues had been an “ongoing problem” for 18 months and that the SAR service “is over-reliant on overtime in order to maintain the level required”.

CHC Ireland, which operates the service, says it has the full compliment of coastguard pilots needed to operate.

From noon on Thursday pilots are set to engage in work-to-rule action, meaning they will work a fixed pattern of six days of work, including three 24-hour shifts, followed by three days off.

The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

Published in Coastguard
Tagged under

Donegal based startup, DroneSAR Ltd has won the European Commission prize announced last night (7 November 2017) in Tallinn, Estonia at the awards ceremony for the 14th European Satellite Navigation Competition (ESNC) winners. DroneSAR Ltd were awarded this prize for the development of software which transforms standard “off-the-shelf” drone and mobile device pairings into enhanced search and rescue (SAR) data transmission technology that will save lives.

The European Commission Prize - the Copernicus Masters Services Challenge - is one of a range of challenges and prizes on offer to the 321 finalists in the ESNC competition. It is awarded for innovative uses of the European Commission operated Copernicus program products. The Copernicus program is a European Union Programme aimed at developing European information services based on satellite Earth Observation data and implemented in partnership with Member States, the European Space Agency (ESA) and a number of other European organisations.

DroneSAR Ltd were presented with a cheque from the European Commission, which is in addition to their award as Ireland Region Winner. The Ireland Region Competition for the annual ESNC awards has been organised and sponsored by National Space Centre Ltd since 2012.

DroneSAR Ltd is the brainchild of it’s four co-founders who each possess expertise and skill-sets specific to the world of drone technology, network and satellite communication and SAR coordination and emergency response.

CEO Oisin McGrath said “DroneSAR makes it possible to use affordable, “off-the-shelf” drone technology to expedite successful outcomes during emergency response incidents. It delivers the right data to the right people at the right time when agencies are faced with time and resource constraints. We are delighted to have won this award from the European Commission.

Each member of the DroneSAR team has contributed to realise a software product that will play a major part in ensuring that emergency response time-frames, incident coordination, decisions and successful outcomes will be realised across all sectors of the emergency response and humanitarian relief environment.”

To deliver the service, DroneSAR Ltd has partnered with leading outdoor pursuit software providers Viewranger, global maritime distress software company SafeTRX and medical distress location software, Medimee, all of which will allow victim position data to be sent to DroneSAR software for automatic flight to the location.

Rory Fitzpatrick, CEO National Space Centre said “This is worthy recognition for an outstanding product that has both commercial and lifesaving potential. We are incredibly proud to see this young Irish company perform so strongly on the international stage.”

National Space Centre Ltd is based at Elfordstown Earthstation, Midleton and delivers uplink and downlink services to domestic and international teleport and satellite communications markets.

Published in Rescue
Tagged under

#MarineNotice - The latest Marine Notice from the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (DTTAS) details the proper hi-line protocols when receiving assistance from a search and rescue helicopter.

The notice follows the findings of last year’s MCIB report into the sinking of the fishing trawler Iúda Naofa off Scotland in January 2015.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, it was determined that the crew of the trawler lacked knowhow regarding the use of hi-line, which meant they were unable to release an emergency pump dropped to the vessel on a standard clasp from a UK coastguard helicopter.

Full details are included of Marine Notice No 3 of 2017, a PDF of which is available to read or download HERE.

Published in Rescue

#Coastguard - Coastguard volunteers are calling for the service to be designated as a ‘standalone primary response agency’, as the Irish Examiner reports.

A four-person delegation representing some 1,000 volunteers with the Irish Coast Guard pleaded their case with front bench TDs at Leinster House last week for the search and rescue side of the service to be safeguarded along the lines of the Garda, ambulance and fire services.

Among their complaints, the volunteers cite political manoeuvring at the expense of the service, along with “decisions being made by managers” in the Department of Transport “who have no direct involvement with the emergency services”.

In other coastguard news, volunteers from the Doolin unit were involved in the recovery of the body of a woman following a three-day search off the Cliffs of Moher. The Irish Examiner has more on the story HERE.

Published in Coastguard

#Drones - Remote-piloted aircraft or ‘drones’ could revolutionise search and rescue operations around the Irish coast, as the Southern Star reports.

Following a demonstration by Civil Defence Ireland to West Cork emergency services last week, the Irish Coast Guard and others are now exploring how to utilise drone technology in their SAR efforts.

“It’s an ideal resource in areas like West Cork where you have a lot of upland terrain and rocky headlands as well as huge stretches of coastline,” said civil defence officer Niall Twomey.

“The drone can get into these places much faster than searchers on the ground and do it safely too so it can be a huge assistance.”

Twomey is part of a new project developing drone-based search teams across Ireland, two of which are based in Cork at Skibbereen and Kinsale, utilising the heavy-duty Typhoon H remote-piloted aircraft.

The Southern Star has more on the story HERE.

Published in Rescue

#Search - Two bodies have been found in the search for the missing crew of a fishing vessel that sank off Scotland's Western Isles early yesterday (Saturday 9 April).

One crew member was taken to hospital by helicopter as UK Coastguard teams from Stornaway and Prestwick joined the Barra RNLI lifeboat, local fishing vessels and Police Scotland in the search and rescue operation for three missing crewmates, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

One fisherman remains missing after two bodies were recovered yesterday afternoon off Mingulay. Next of kin are aware and police officers are in contact with the families.

Mark Rodaway, national maritime operations commander for the UK Coastguard, said: “Despite an intensive search including the helicopters, lifeboat and other fishing vessels in the area, we have been unable to locate the missing fisherman. Our thoughts are with all those involved.”

Chief Inspector Alastair Garrow of Police Scotland said: "At this time we can confirm that the bodies of two men have been recovered. A third man was rescued and was taken to hospital at Stornoway. He is not seriously injured.

"A fourth man was on the boat and is still missing. The next of kin of all the men have been informed.

Chief Insp Garrow added: "An investigation will be carried out in parallel with the police and the Marine Accident and Investigation Branch (MAIB) and a report will be submitted to the Procurator Fiscal.

"This has been a tragic incident which will impact on the local community. Our thoughts are with the families affected."

The search has now been scaled back pending further information.

Published in Rescue

#Search - One crew member from a fishing vessel has been rescued as the search continues for three others after the boat sank off Scotland's Western Isles in the early hours of this morning (Saturday 9 April).

The UK Coastguard received a distress alert just before 3:45am when the fishing vessel with four crew on board has its emergency positioning beacon (EPIRB) activated near Mingulay.

The coastguard search and rescue helicopter based at Stornoway has since been searching the area along with the Barra RNLI lifeboat.

One crew member has been taken to hospital by the helicopter. The lifeboat remains in the area and the coastguard helicopter from Prestwick has taken over so the search can continue.

Published in Rescue
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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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