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Displaying items by tag: Shipping Minister Mike Penning

Search and rescue operations from Northern Ireland's only dedicated coastguard centre are on the increase, the Belfast Telegraph reports.
The latest figures show that there were 50 per cent more callouts to the Bangor-based centre last year than in 2006.
Shipping Minister Mike Penning - who is behind controversial plans to streamline the UK's coastguard network, which could see Bangor either closed or reduced to daylight operation - also confirmed that more than a third of callouts were made at night.
As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the final decision on the coastguard proposals will be taken by 19 July.

Search and rescue operations from Northern Ireland's only dedicated coastguard centre are on the increase, the Belfast Telegraph reports.

The latest figures show that there were 50 per cent more callouts to the Bangor-based centre last year than in 2006.

Shipping Minister Mike Penning - who is behind controversial plans to streamline the UK's coastguard network, which could see Bangor either closed or reduced to daylight operation - also confirmed that more than a third of callouts were made at night.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the final decision on the coastguard proposals will be taken by 19 July.

Published in Coastguard
The final decision on plans to streamline the UK's network of coastguard centres will be taken next month, the News Letter reports.
As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the 24-hour station at Bangor - which covers Nothern Ireland's coastline - is at risk of closure under the proposed cuts.
Shipping Minister Mike Penning says the decision will be announced on 19 July, following the report of the Commons Transport Select Committee next week, after which a second consultation period will begin.
He reportedly told a Westminster debate last week that "no change is not an option".
Northern Ireland voiced their opposition at the debate to any reduction of service at Bangor, with David Simpson of Upper Bann saying that it "would have a significant effect on the levels of service and rescue".
The News Letter has more on the story HERE.

The final decision on plans to streamline the UK's network of coastguard centres will be taken next month, the News Letter reports.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the station at Bangor - Northern Ireland's only 24-hour search and rescue co-ordination centre - is at risk of closure under the proposed cuts.

Shipping Minister Mike Penning says the decision will be announced on 19 July, following the report of the Commons Transport Select Committee next week, after which a second consultation period will begin.

He reportedly told a Westminster debate last week that "no change is not an option".

Northern Ireland MPs voiced their opposition at the debate to any reduction of service at Bangor, with David Simpson of Upper Bann saying that it "would have a significant effect on the levels of service and rescue".

The News Letter has more on the story HERE.

Published in Coastguard
The UK Shipping Minister has hit out at claims that Northern Ireland coastguards were barred from speaking to the Commons committee looking into plans to streamline the British coastguard network.
According to the Belfast Telegraph, Minister Mike Penning maintained he had "not gagged anybody" when questioned over his forbidding officers from a number of coastguard stations - including Bangor - from giving testimony to the transport committee.
The minister explained his decision on the basis that coastguards are civil servants and that "a civil servant's job is to support the government of the day".
He also indicated to the inquiry panel that he was working towards keeping open 10 stations instead of the eight listed in the original plans, under which Bangor would either be downgraded to a daytime station or closed outright.
The Belfast Telegraph has more on the story HERE.

The UK Shipping Minister has hit out at claims that Northern Ireland coastguards were barred from speaking to the Commons committee looking into plans to streamline the British coastguard network.

According to the Belfast Telegraph, Minister Mike Penning maintained he had "not gagged anybody" when questioned over his forbidding officers from a number of coastguard stations - including Bangor - from giving testimony to the transport committee.

The minister explained his decision on the basis that coastguards are civil servants and that "a civil servant's job is to support the government of the day".

He also indicated to the inquiry panel that he was working towards keeping open 10 stations instead of the eight listed in the original plans, under which Bangor would either be downgraded to a daytime station or closed outright.

The Belfast Telegraph has more on the story HERE.

Published in Coastguard
Union leaders and seafarers have spoken out over the proposed closure of coastguard stations across the UK as a parliamentary committee begins its inquiry into the cutbacks.
Northern Ireland's only full-time search and rescue centre at Bangor is one of 11 stations under threat of closure under plans spearheaded by Shipping Minister Mike Penning to streamline Britain's coastguard network down to just seven bases.
According to the Belfast Telegraph, officials from mariners' union Nautilus International told MPs at the Commons Transport Select Committee that there should be an "absolute minimum" of 11 stations across the UK, lest there be "grave consequences for safety in UK waters".
British Prime Minister David Cameron has promised to rethink the proposed reforms if they pose any threat to safety at sea. The Labour Party has already branded them as "ill-thought-out madness".
The public consultation on the proposed changes is set to close on 5 May.

Union leaders and seafarers have spoken out over the proposed closure of coastguard stations across the UK as a parliamentary committee begins its inquiry into the cutbacks.

Northern Ireland's only full-time search and rescue centre at Bangor is one of 11 stations under threat of closure under plans spearheaded by Shipping Minister Mike Penning to streamline Britain's coastguard network down to just seven bases.

According to the Belfast Telegraph, officials from mariners' union Nautilus International told MPs at the Commons Transport Select Committee that there should be an "absolute minimum" of 11 stations across the UK, lest there be "grave consequences for safety in UK waters".

British Prime Minister David Cameron has promised to rethink the proposed reforms if they pose any threat to safety at sea. The Labour Party has already branded them as "ill-thought-out madness".

The public consultation on the proposed changes is set to close on 5 May.

Published in Coastguard
The British government could be ready to change its plans for the streamlining of the UK coastguard service.
The Belfast Telegraph reports that while there will be no turning back on reforms, concessions such as closing fewer stations and keeping more open 24/7 are being considered - which could save Northern Ireland's only full-time coastguard base from the chop.
The centre at Bangor was earmarked for scaleback or closure under plans proposed by Shipping Minister Mike Penning, But he was forced to extend the consultation period, with a spokesperson saying that "the government is committed to taking all points of view into account before decicing how best to proceed".
Shadow Shipping Minister Jim Fitzpatrick said: “We were concerned about the level of cuts initially proposed and are pleased that the Government appears to be reviewing its plans."
The Belfast Telegraph has more on the story HERE.

The British government could be ready to change its plans for the streamlining of the UK coastguard service.

The Belfast Telegraph reports that while there will be no turning back on reforms, concessions such as closing fewer stations and keeping more open 24/7 are being considered - which could save Northern Ireland's only full-time coastguard base from the chop.

The centre at Bangor was earmarked for scaleback or closure under plans proposed by Shipping Minister Mike Penning, But he was forced to extend the consultation period, with a spokesperson saying that "the government is committed to taking all points of view into account before decicing how best to proceed".

Shadow Shipping Minister Jim Fitzpatrick said: “We were concerned about the level of cuts initially proposed and are pleased that the Government appears to be reviewing its plans."

The Belfast Telegraph has more on the story HERE.

Published in Coastguard
Ireland's free provision of air-sea rescue services to Northern Ireland could be in jeopardy if the Bangor coastguard centre is closed, a DUP MP has warned.
In today's Belfast Telegraph, Strangford's Jim Shannon said that loss of the cross-border relationship would "most certainly end in loss of life".
Shannon reiterated that the Bangor centre is not only responsible for Northern Ireland's coastline but also its inland waterways and loughs, and mountain areas such as the Mournes.
Merseyside MP Bill Esterson is also quoted as warning that his local coastguard staff "don't feel equipped to look after Northern Ireland" if services are consolidated in Liverpool.
Shipping minister Mike Penning gave his assurance that coastguard staff would not be victimised if they submit their views to the open consultation, which has been extended to 5 May.

Ireland's free provision of air-sea rescue services to Northern Ireland could be in jeopardy if the Bangor coastguard centre is closed, a DUP MP has warned.

In today's Belfast Telegraph, Strangford's Jim Shannon said that loss of the cross-border relationship would "most certainly end in loss of life".

Shannon reiterated that the Bangor centre is not only responsible for Northern Ireland's coastline but also its inland waterways and loughs, and mountain areas such as the Mournes.

Merseyside MP Bill Esterson is also quoted as warning that his local coastguard staff "don't feel equipped to look after Northern Ireland" if services are consolidated in Liverpool.

Shipping Minister Mike Penning gave his assurance that coastguard staff would not be victimised if they submit their views to the open consultation, which has been extended to 5 May.

Published in Coastguard
UK Shipping Minister Mike Penning's praise of staff at Northern Ireland's only coastguard station has been described as 'hollow' by a DUP MLA.
Penning had described his meeting with staff at the Bangor coastguard centre, which is threatened with closure under new streamlining plans, as "a breath of fresh air".
But the DUP's Peter Weir told the Community Telegraph that his praise "rings a little hollow as it is the minister who created the problem in the first place".
He added: "“We cannot be allowed to be the only part of the UK to be without this facility, and the Secretary of State should be making it clear to his colleagues that he feels so strongly about this that he considers this a resigning matter."
North Down Mayor John Montgomery (DUP) also complained that neither he nor his councillors were informed of the minister's flying visit, which had been rescheduled after a previous cancellation.
"Is the Shipping Minister running scared of North Down councillors?" he asked.

UK Shipping Minister Mike Penning's praise of staff at Northern Ireland's only coastguard station has been described as 'hollow' by a DUP MLA.

Penning had described his meeting with staff at the Bangor coastguard centre, which is threatened with closure under new streamlining plans, as "a breath of fresh air".

But the DUP's Peter Weir told the Community Telegraph that his praise "rings a little hollow as it is the minister who created the problem in the first place".

He added: "“We cannot be allowed to be the only part of the UK to be without this facility, and the Secretary of State should be making it clear to his colleagues that he feels so strongly about this that he considers this a resigning matter."

North Down Mayor John Montgomery (DUP) also complained that neither he nor his councillors were informed of the minister's flying visit, which had been rescheduled after a previous cancellation.

"Is the Shipping Minister running scared of North Down councillors?" he asked.

Published in Coastguard
UK Shipping Minister Mike Penning described his meeting with Bangor coastguard staff last week as "a breath of fresh air", BBC News reports.
Last Wednesday Penning met staff at Northern Ireland's only coastguard centre, which is threatened with closure under plans to streamline the UK's coastguard station network.
Minister Penning admitted to BBC News that Bangor was not on the original list of centres marked for closure.
"It was a decision made by myself and the secretary of state and we were honest about that," he said, adding that there was now "acceptance of the people in the frontline that there has to be change and there has to be modernisation".
The minister said no date had been set for a final decision on which stations would be closed.
Meanwhile, the Community Telegraph reports on confusion among the public following the meeting with Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) officials in Bangor on 3 March.
Ian Graham of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union, which represents coastguards, said: “They didn’t really answer any of the questions from the public adequately."
He added that statistics they used in a slideshow to illustrate rescue incident start time were "misleading" as "a lot of rescues can last for hours".

UK Shipping Minister Mike Penning described his meeting with Bangor coastguard staff last week as "a breath of fresh air", BBC News reports.

Last Wednesday Penning met staff at Northern Ireland's only coastguard centre, which is threatened with closure under plans to streamline the UK's coastguard station network.

Minister Penning admitted to BBC News that Bangor was not on the original list of centres marked for closure.

"It was a decision made by myself and the secretary of state and we were honest about that," he said, adding that there was now "acceptance of the people in the frontline that there has to be change and there has to be modernisation".

The minister said no date had been set for a final decision on which stations would be closed.

Meanwhile, the Community Telegraph reports on confusion among the public following the meeting with Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) officials in Bangor on 3 March.

Ian Graham of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union, which represents coastguards, said: “They didn’t really answer any of the questions from the public adequately."

He added that statistics they used in a slideshow to illustrate rescue incident start time were "misleading" as "a lot of rescues can last for hours".

Published in Coastguard

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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