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Displaying items by tag: Scotland

#Coastguard - Last month's Belfast Coastguard understaffing concerns have been echoed across the North Channel in Western Scotland, with the SNP adding its voice to the chorus of disapproval.

As Glasgow's Evening Times reports, Belfast's repeated staffing issues - the station was manned below risk-assessed levels on eight separate occasions - compounded problems already identified at Aberdeen, which was understaffed for more than half of all shifts in December.

Both stations are charged with protecting the entirely of the mainland Scottish coastline, on top of Belfast's duties for the whole of Northern Ireland.

The SNP's Stuart McMillan has cited both station's staffing records as evidence that the decision to close the Clyde coastguard station in Greenock, northwest of Glasgow, was ill-advised.

These concerns come as Ireland faces its own coastguard consultation efforts that threaten to undermine "30 years of progress in marine safety".

The Evening Times has more on the story HERE.

Published in Coastal Notes
Tagged under

#MarineWildlife - BBC News reports that three killer whales from a community of orcas off the Scottish west coast have been spotted off the country's east coast for the first time since scientists began monitoring the group in the 1990s.

Mark Hosford of the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust described the sighting as "a really exciting development".

He added: "The west coast community is thought to be the only resident population of orca in the British Isles, and understanding their behaviour and movements is crucial to the conservation of these remarkable creatures."

The group's normal range includes Scotland's north and west coasts to the west coast of Ireland, and is thought to comprise just nine older whales - which are also believed to be genetically distinct from other orcas in the North Atlantic, showing much closer similarity to Antarctic killer whales.

As reported on Afloat.ie earlier this year, marine wildlife experts fear that the group is now on the "brink of extinction".

Published in Marine Wildlife

#RNLI - Stranraer RNLI's lifeboat was dispatched by Belfast Coastguard on Friday evening (7 June) to rescue men from a stranded personal water craft on the rocks at Corsewall Point.

The men had been travelling on the water scooter across the North Channel from Ballycastle in Northern Ireland to Campbeltown in Scotland and back - a round trip of some 130km - but ran out of fuel on the return leg, and drifted to Corsewall on the north point of the Rhins of Galloway.

The RNLI Stranraer lifeboat launched at 5.20pm from Lady Bay and 20 minutes later arrived on scene, where they discovered that two of the men were cold and one had an ankle injury - although a conflicting report via the Belfast Coastguard says only two men were found.

The men were transferred safely on to the lifeboat and taken to Dally Bay, from where they were taken by road to Stranraer Accident and Emergency Hospital.

But as BBC News reports, they were beset by further problems on their return trip to Northern Ireland later that evening, when the private vessel on which they were travelling also ran out of fuel and had to be towed to Red Bay in Co Antrim.

Belfast Coastguard confirmed to the BBC that the men had been travelling on their water scooter with "no navigational aids" and that "they could not get a signal from their mobile phone".

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

#maritimefestivals – The fascinating story of an ancient agricultural crop and how it played a key role in the maritime industry will be brought to life at Scotland's leading celebration of nautical heritage and culture.

A display and demonstration on flax – described as Britain's forgotten crop - will be one of the main attractions in the craft tent at the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Traditional Boat Festival later this month.

Crowds in excess of 16,000 are expected to descend on the village of Portsoy on the Aberdeenshire coast when the festival, now in its 20th year, takes place over the weekend of June 22 and 23.

The demonstration will be led by Flaxland, a group of flax growers and producers who featured in the BBC television show, Wartime Farm. They will be showing members of the public how the fibre was used in a huge variety of maritime products, and will reveal how they have even been able to build a boat made from flax fabric.

Flax growing in the UK is believed to date back to the Bronze Age and grew popular due to the versatility of both the plant's stem and seed. As well as being used in oil and in cooking, flax can be used to create everything from clothing to paint.

Roger Goodyear, chairman of the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Traditional Boat Festival, says organisers are delighted to welcome Flaxland to the event for the first time this year.

"The festival is one of many events taking place across the country for the Year of Natural Scotland, so it seems entirely fitting that this natural product with such a rich history in the UK should play a key role in this year's celebrations," he says.

"Authentic maritime and craft skills have always been an important part of the festival, and this year we will once again play host to a very diverse range of crafts men and women who represent the very best in traditional skills."

In addition to Flaxland, visitors will be able to learn splicing for beginners thanks to the maritime studies department of Orkney College, try a pottery wheel and watch a basket weaver in action. Younger visitors will also be able to take part in a workshop teaching basic knot-work, and the very popular Living Traditions tent will be making a return appearance.

The festival is a key event in the Year of Natural Scotland – a partnership between the Scottish Government, VisitScotland EventScotland and Scottish Natural Heritage which aims to showcase the country's unique natural environment.

For more information about the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Traditional Boat Festival and to buy tickets visit www.stbfportsoy.com Updates about this year's festival are also available on Facebook and Twitter – search for @STBFestival. An adult day ticket costs £8, children aged five to 18 and concessions are £5. Adult weekend tickets are priced at £12 and children and concessions at £8. There are also family tickets available which allow entry for two adults and three children for £25 for a day ticket and £35 for a weekend. Children under five go free and there is no charge for parking.

Published in Maritime Festivals
Tagged under

#Diving - With the Lusitania back in the news, Ireland's wealth of interesting diving sites are bound to draw attention this summer.

But it's worth remembering how dangerous an activity wreck diving can be - as Gizmodo reader Magicguppy relates in a special column for the tech news website.

He recalls his first ever shipwreck dive in September 2006, to the remains of the Rondo beneath the Sound of Mull in western Scotland.

"Used as a passage for shipping for centuries, it had a certain reputation for wrecking ships — even in 1935," writes Magicguppy, who goes on to depict in vivid detail how the ship went down, not to mention how the danger persists today for those who want to get close to the wreckage:

"The surface current swept my dive buddy and I towards the buoy. I turned and saw it gunning down on me. Grabbing the rope under the buoy, I signalled to my buddy.

"I knew that we had to get down below the current, and if we let go, even for a second, we wouldn’t be able to fight the current and get back onto the rope. My buddy agreed: Time to dive."

Gizmodo has much more HERE. But be warned - some of the gruesome descriptions in this story are not for the faint of heart!

Published in Diving

#Coastguard - For Argyll in Scotland reports that Richard Newell has resigned from his post as rescue co-ordination centre manager at Belfast Coastguard.

The news comes some weeks after the command base took on extra responsibility with the permanent closure of the Clyde coastguard station last month.

Britain's Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) confirmed to the website that Newell resigned from his position around two weeks ago - and that he has assured the agency that his decision has no connection with the streamlining plans being undertaken across Britain's coastguard network.

However, For Argyll alleges Newell had made it known locally that "if he considered the future [of the coastguard service] was becoming dangerous, then he would go".

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, campaigners for the Clyde coastguard station in western Scotland were taken aback by the early transfer of helicopter dispatches to Belfast and Stornoway in November, ahead of the base's permanent closure on 18 December last.

More than 30 jobs were lost with the scrapping of the Clyde control centre at Greenock, with much of its role now being taken up by the Belfast command centre at Bangor across the North Channel - a change to the original plan for Scottish stations to share the load till 2015.

Published in Coastguard

#CoastalRowing - News comes from Scotland of an intriguing new coastal rowing craze that sounds like something from a Swedish furniture store!

As the Guardian reports, a traditional Scottish fishing skiff design provided the inspiration for the new flatpack coastal rowing boat, which began life as a prototype project for the Scottish Fisheries Museum four years ago.

Since then the St Ayles skiff concept swept like a wave across the UK and beyond - and examples of the DIY kit row boat, which is handmade in Fife, can be found as far afield as Australia.

Many of those international rowers are expected to converge in Scotland this simmer for the coastal rowing world championships off Ullapool.

The Guardian has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Coastal Rowing
14th December 2012

Mike Balmforth FRIN 1941-2012

#mikebalmforth – With the death on 2 December of Mike Balmforth, Ireland and Scotland lost a powerful voice for leisure sailors.

Mike was born in Belfast and learned to sail on Strangford Lough. He became a deputy editor of Yachting Monthly in the 1960s, and went on to be boatbuilder, sparmaker, yachtbroker and chandler, and marine author, editor and publisher. He edited the Clyde Cruising Club's Journal and founded The Yachtsman's Almanac and Welcome Anchorages.

Mike co-founded the Scottish Boating Alliance, which allowed marine leisure interests to speak with one strong voice to Government. His knowledge, vision, administrative skills and ability to inspire trust gave him and the SBA great authority, and the model he developed has been recommended for marine leisure development planning in Ireland.

He was a member of the Irish Cruising Club for 46 years, and made a major contribution as a director of the Club's publications arm and co-author of Cruising Ireland.

He had many boats of his own, but his masterpiece was his beautiful Dawn 39 Greenheart, which he fitted out himself from the mouldings. With his family – all dedicated sailors - he cruised Scotland, Ireland, France, Spain and the Baltic.

Mike is survived by his wife Alison, sons Robin and Des, and three grandchildren.

NBK

Published in News Update
Tagged under

#COASTGUARD - Campaigners for the Clyde coastguard station in western Scotland have suffered a blow with the news that all calls are now being routed to Stornoway and Belfast as of last night.

BBC News reports on a document leaked to the Coastguard SOS Campaign, which outlines that while the Clyde station itself is scheduled to close on 18 December, control of aerials (ie helicopter dispatches) to the stations at Stornoway and Belfast was on schedule to be completed by yesterday evening (Friday 16 November).

Campaigner Dennis O'Connor said this move meant that "Clyde will cease to exist operationally" from last night.

He also described it as a "direct challenge" to concerns from the Transport Select Committee in Westminster that the closure programme had started early with the closure of Forth coastguard in September "despite assurances that the replacement system of operation would be fully tested before any closures took place".

However, a spokesperson for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency said that the handover period "has been planned for some time. All the staff have been informed well in advance."

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the scrapping of the Clyde control centre at Greenock will see the loss of 31 jobs, with much of its role being taken up by the Belfast coastguard at Bangor across the North Channel - a change to the original plan for Scottish stations to share the load till 2015.

Published in Coastguard

#MARINAS - The new shore block at Stranraer Marina is the latest project to benefit from the Sail West initiative across western Scotland, Northern Ireland and the northwest coast of Ireland.

As the Galloway Gazette reports, the new waterfront building comprises a permanent harbour office, coastguard base, showers and toilets, as well as a community education room.

“The ongoing development of the marina is key to branding Stranraer as a marine leisure destination," said local councillor Roberta Tuckfield.

"Plans to add more pontoons and another breakwater should bring in additional pleasure craft, increasing tourism numbers benefiting the whole town.”

The marina improvements have been made with the goals of boosting the number of marine leisure users in Stranraer, fitting in with Sail West and its cross-border MalinWaters marine tourism brand across the channel.

Sail West is an international scheme, headed by Donegal County Council and Larne Borough Council, which aims to encourage mariners to enjoy the North Channel coastlines of Scotland, Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Other projects recently supported under the rubric of the Sail West initiative include the new coastal marina facility at Ballycastle Harbour in north Antrim and this summer's Clipper Festival in Derry.

The Galloway Gazette has more on the story HERE.

Published in Irish Marinas
Page 6 of 11

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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