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Irish tourists looking to holiday in France next year received a welcome boost today as Ireland’s leading ferry company Stena Line announced it was introducing a second cruise ferry on its Rosslare to Cherbourg service. Providing best-in-class comfort and choice for passengers on the route in 2023, the new ship Stena Vision will increase frequency on the route to six departure days a week on the shortest, quickest, and most frequent ferry service to the European Continent, say the company.

The addition of Stena Vision to the Ireland-France route, will provide Stena Line with a significant increase in capacity operating alongside its existing vessel, Stena Horizon. Stena Vision is scheduled to begin service in June and will have space for 1,300 passengers and 485 passenger cabins, more than any other ferry current sailing from Ireland. It will offer a wide selection of accommodation ranging from standard and deluxe cabins, to suites. There’s also good news for dog owners with 42 pet cabins, so passengers can travel with their furry friends to and from France*.

Travel guests can sit back, relax and start their holiday as soon as they board the bigger and more spacious Stena Vision. The new travel experience includes a wide choice of bars and restaurants, as well as an onboard Nordic Spa. Whether passengers are going to hit the beaches on the Riviera, chill out in Provence, or party in Paris they can arrive in comfort, style and refreshed after their cruise.

Paul Grant, Irish Sea Trade Director at Stena Line, says: “Ahead of what is expected to be a busy summer in 2023, we will be doubling our sailing frequency and tripling our passenger capacity for tourists on our Rosslare – Cherbourg service as well significantly increasing freight capacity. We’ve seen increased demand for more services and bigger vessels and are pleased to announce that from next June we will have 12 sailings weekly on the shortest and most frequent direct service between Ireland and France. We are delighted to offer more options and choice for our customers with this significant addition to our Irish Sea fleet.”

The introduction of the Stena Vision is welcome news for the freight sector, which has seen demand grow for direct services to France from hauliers since Brexit. Stena Vision will also increase driver accompanied capacity with more cabin space for freight drivers.

Stena Vision will come fresh from the Baltic Sea, where it has been operating on the busy Swedish/Polish Karlskrona to Gdynia route. It will be replaced by the Stena Line’s new larger E-Flexer Stena Ebba early next year.

Starting service in June 2023, with a choice of fares from as little as €289 for a car and driver, crossings can be secured with only a €100 deposit. Bookings can be made at stenaline.ie and stenaline.fr.

Published in Stena Line
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In the early evening of Saturday, 2nd October, Belfast Coastguard put out a MAYDAY in response to a 20ft yacht with four people on board reportedly taking on water and without power, a mile north of Corsewall Point, at the mouth of Loch Ryan on the southwest coast of Scotland.

The Stena Superfast VIII, the ro-ro/passenger ferry between Belfast and Cairnryan on Loch Ryan, passed and responded. They launched their fast rescue craft and stood by the vessel until the arrival of Portpatrick and Stranraer RNLI lifeboats. The craft was assisted to Stranraer marina by the lifeboats.

Belfast Coastguard, with Headquarters in Bangor on Belfast Lough, coordinates Search and Rescue for Northern Ireland, Southwest Scotland and North West England. They commented, "We are very grateful for the swift and professional response from Superfast VIII and at no time was the ferry or its passengers or crew in any danger".

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Duty-free shopping is making a big impact as it proves popular with passengers once again on routes between Ireland and Wales. Early sales figures show the huge potential it has to help the travel sector bounce back after the pandemic. Nowhere has the boost from duty free become more apparent than at Swedish ferry company Stena Line, where spend per passenger in its onboard shops saw a fourfold increase in August, on routes where passengers can now enjoy tax-free shopping.

With duty-free shopping back onboard it has meant lucky passengers can now access large discounts of up to 50% off on a wide range of items such as whiskeys, vodkas, gins, wines, beers and champagnes. With famous brands like Jameson, Grey Goose, Bombay Sapphire, Hendricks, Budweiser, and Bollinger, all available at a fraction of onshore prices.

The removal of COVID-19 travel restrictions by Ireland meant that August was the first month where full tourist and non-essential travel with Britain was permitted. The response was instant, with high demand for sailings from people desperate to travel after so long in lockdown and keen to make the most of what was left of summer. The demand for duty-free was equally high, resulting in the spend per passenger in Stena Line’s onboard shops more than quadrupling compared to pre-pandemic levels in August 2019.

Paul Grant, Stena Line’s Irish Sea Trade Director commented: “Like most travel businesses we have experienced a very difficult time over the last 18 months, but now as our passengers start to return in large numbers, we are delighted to be in a position to offer them the added benefit of duty-free shopping on our ships for the first time in over 20 years. Our expanded onboard shops now offer a great range of items from spirits to jewellery, fragrances to electrics, some at over 50% cheaper than high street prices.”

Duty-free shopping is now available to any passengers on Stena Line’s services between Holyhead – Dublin and Fishguard – Rosslare, where the company’s large, modern vessels have newly refitted and expanded shops.

The company has also reintroduced its famous low-cost duty-free return trips, known as ‘non-landers’, where people take return trips across the Irish Sea, without leaving the ferry, just to access the bargains now on offer. Duty-free return fares are only £20.

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Continuing the strengthening and expansion of its services in the Baltic Sea, Swedish ferry company Stena Line is deploying two new large and modern ferries on the route between Ventspils in Latvia and Nynäshamn in Sweden this year. The first of the two vessels, Stena Scandica, arrived in the port of Nynäshamn this morning when it completed its overnight maiden voyage from Ventspils. The vessel adds another 70% more cabins and 30% more freight capacity compared to the existing vessels and offers an attractive alternative way to travel on the Baltic Sea.

“We have been carrying passengers and freight in the Baltic Sea region for almost ten years. During this period, we have experienced a strong yearly growth. Furthermore, we have more than doubled our operations from one vessel and 10 departures per week in 2012 up to two vessels and 24 departures per week for passengers and freight in 2021. Our expansion is driven by an increased demand for sea travel and the requirement for additional freight capacity from our customers on the Baltic Sea. We are now strengthening our position and customer offer further with two new modern and bigger vessels that will add extra 30 % freight capacity and provide an attractive onboard experience on both our routes to and from Latvia during 2021,” says Johan Edelman, Trade Director Baltic Sea North.

Stena Scandica is 222m long and has a capacity of 200 cabins, 970 passengers and 2,875 freight lane meters, plus an extra car deck – adding another 30% freight capacity and 70% more cabins on the route. The vessel is fitted with several sustainable features and fuel efficiency improvements, such as hybrid scrubbers, ballast water cleaning systems, twisted leading edge rudder and others to offer a more sustainable transportation across the Baltic Sea. The larger tonnage also means a lower emission per transported unit.​ The interior includes new cabin categories, spacious shop with great deals and well-known brand products, lounge areas and several dining facilities, as well as a sundeck.

“We see RoPax as our key competitive advantage and an integral part of our success story, therefore, we will continue to combine freight and passengers. These two new vessels represent a fantastic addition to the fleet for our customers, and it is just a first step towards our ambitious plan to double the number of passengers on the Baltic Sea route in 3 years,” highlights Johan Edelman.

Ventspils – Nynäshamn is the shortest route between the Baltics and Scandinavia. When Stena Scandica and Stena Baltica take over the route Ventspils – Nynäshamn and they will replace the Stena Livia and Stena Flavia, which will then be redeployed on the route Liepāja – Travemünde.

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In 2015 Stena Line made history by converting one of the largest RoPax ferries in the world, the 240-metre Stena Germanica, to become the world’s first methanol powered ferry. Now the Swedish ferry company has achieved another world first, by powering Stena Germanica with methanol recycled from residual steel gases.

This week Stena Line took the next step on their sustainable journey towards achieving zero carbon when the Stena Germanica travelled from Sweden to Germany powered by recycled methanol. The new fuel dubbed ‘Blue Methanol’, is recycled from residual steel gases, a by-product of the steel production industry and helps reduce the ferry’s reliance on diesel, thus lowering the vessel’s carbon emissions further.

By making Stena Germanica blue the new fuels helps the vessel become greener! This week’s journey is another milestone in this ground-breaking project, which launched in 2015 when the dual-fuel system onboard Stena Germanica was converted to allow the vessel to run on both methanol and diesel fuel. It is the world’s first methanol powered RoPax (passenger and freight) ferry, which operates on the Gothenburg – Kiel route.

Stena Line developed it with several partners, including Methanex, Wärtsilä and EU's Motorways of the Seas project. The conversion project was the first of its kind in the world and was so unique that it established methanol as a marine fuel for the first time ever.

"It is exciting to be part of our sustainable journey and try out another new sustainable fuel. I can confirm that we sailed with the new fuel from Gothenburg to Kiel on June 22 and it worked very well,” says Peter Holm, Chief Engineer Stena Germanica.

While methanol is a fossil fuel, it is much cleaner than traditional marine fuel. Sulphur and particulates are reduced by 90% and nitrogen by 60%. The steel industry and the maritime sector are two of the world’s biggest emitters of CO2, accounting for 6-8% and 2.5% of all CO2 emissions respectively. The FReSMe project, funded by H2020 EU program, aims to demonstrate the whole process that enables the CO2 captured from the steel industry to produce methanol fuel that will be used as fuel in the ship transportation sector.

“This collaboration between the steel and the maritime sectors is the first of its kind and demonstrates that by working together companies from different backgrounds can greatly improve their effect on the climate. For Stena Line this is another successful proof of concept for our methanol conversion ferry and a further bridge towards our aim of fossil free shipping,” says Erik Lewenhaupt, Head of Sustainability Stena Line Group.

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Despite the ongoing pandemic, ferry company Stena Line has achieved another important milestone in its major new fleet investment programme with the ‘launching’ ceremony of the first new extended E-Flexer vessel in Weihai, China. The vessel was ordered in 2018 and the delivery is expected in 2022. For now, the name of the new vessel and the route on which it will operate are being kept a closely guarded secret by Stena Line.

Stena Line is well underway in modernising its large European fleet of ferries and has not let the ongoing pandemic affect these ambitious plans. The new vessel that took to the water for the first time on 24 May is the fourth out of five new next-generation E-Flexer vessels that are designed and built in collaboration with the sister company Stena RoRo at the CMI Jinling Weihai Shipyard in China. The vessels are among the world's most modern and efficient RoPax vessels. The three first vessels have already started to operate on the Irish Sea during 2020 and 2021.

”The E-Flexer vessels represent an important part of our sustainable growth journey for the future and we look forward to welcoming two more vessels to our fleet next year. The first three vessels are making waves with our appreciative customers across the Irish Sea and both their flexibility and efficiency has already made them great assets for the company during the pandemic and following Brexit” says Niclas Mårtensson, Managing Director of Stena Line.

”Despite the challenges connected to the pandemic we have been able to deliver our new buildings in time and thereby enabling Stena Line to perform their fleet renewal program as planned, says Per Westling, Managing Director of Stena RoRo.

The fourth and the fifth vessel will be 240 meters long with a load capacity of 3,600 length meters, compared to the first three which are 214 meters long and have a load capacity of 3,100 length meters. In total, the larger vessels also get 50 % more cabins and beds, 30 % increased passenger capacity and an additional 15% cargo capacity. The name of the new vessel and the locations where it will operate will be announced later this year.

Among the distinguishing features are:

  • Efficient loading and unloading with drive-through lanes on the two levels.
  • Up to 30 % more energy efficient than existing vessels in the fleet, thanks to optimum design of the hulls, propellers, bulbs and rudders.
  • All five vessels are delivered gas-ready, to allow conversion to methanol or LNG fuel.
  • The two longer vessels will be equipped to use shore power during port calls to reduce emissions. The electricity connection also enables a conversion to battery hybrid in the future.
  • Stena Lines’ Scandinavian heritage is clearly visible on the interior and the design is spacious and light, with amazing panoramic views.
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With the expectation that travel restrictions between Ireland and Britain will be removed soon, ferry company Stena Line is bringing its new vessel Stena Estrid back to its key Holyhead – Dublin route.

It will replace the Stena Horizon, which will return to its former role serving Rosslare – Cherbourg.

The ships had swapped due to increased freight demand on direct routes to France and low travel volumes between Holyhead and Dublin. The end of lockdowns have resulted in freight volumes increasing again, so the company needs to switch the vessels back to their pre-lockdown roles.

Paul Grant, Stena Line’s Trade Director says: “With huge pent up demand for travel between Ireland and Britain, and the added bonus of Duty Free, now’s the right time to switch Stena Estrid back.

Stena Horizon will again operate alongside Stena Foreteller on Rosslare – Cherbourg, offering 12 sailings per week to France. We’ve doubled our frequency on our direct services to the Continent.”

The last sailing of the Stena Estrid to France will be the 15:00hrs departure from Cherbourg on 23rd May; the ship will then reposition for the 20:30 departure from Holyhead to Dublin on 24th May.

The last sailing of the Stena Horizon from Dublin to Holyhead will be the on 14:45hrs departure on 24th May. The vessel will then return to join the Stena Foreteller on the Rosslare – Cherbourg route, where Stena Line has doubled frequency post-Brexit and offers freight customers the most frequent and shortest service to North West France. Stena Horizon’s first departure from Rosslare to Cherbourg will 21:00hrs on 25th May.

Stena Estrid will provide two daily return crossings each way between Holyhead and Dublin. Where it is expected that onboard Duty-Free sales, now available after Brexit, will become very popular.

Stena Line offers the most comprehensive choice of services on the Irish Sea, with 6 routes from Ireland to Scotland, England, Wales and France, and more than 220 sailings weekly.

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Irish Ferries and Stena Line, the two key players in Ireland’s ferry industry, are today calling for the reopening of the Common Travel Area (CTA) at the earliest opportunity. They also welcome comments made last week by Tánaiste Leo Varadkar, when he talked about the possibility of restoring the Common Travel Area (CTA) between Ireland and Britain as an “initial first step” for the travel and tourism sectors.

With virus levels now low in Ireland and the UK, and vaccination programmes progressing in both countries, Irish Ferries and Stena Line are calling on Ministers and industry stakeholders to urgently look at restoring the long-standing CTA agreement for Irish and UK citizens, and permit unrestricted travel between Britain and the island of Ireland.

Paul Grant, Trade Director for the Irish Sea, at Stena Line said: “COVID-19 infections are now at low levels and vaccination levels are increasing significantly in both countries. In the UK for example 66% of adults have now received their first dose and 30% have had both, so there is now a real need to focus on solving some of the economic impacts of the pandemic, and an obvious starting point are the hard-hit tourist, hospitality and travel sectors. With the restoring of travel between the islands of Ireland and Britain, we can start to rebuild these sectors locally in advance of the full resumption of international travel, which may take more time to agree and deliver.”

Andrew Sheen, Managing Director for Irish Ferries commented: “The ferry industry has played a key role in helping to keep vital food and medical supply lines open during the height of the pandemic. With the current UK infection rate of 48 cases per 100,000 population comparable to the lowest in Europe, we need to acknowledge the shared land border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland and eliminate the discrepancies and loopholes on travel restrictions on the island. Irish Ferries and Stena Line welcome the Tánaiste’s recent comments on the possibility of restoring the CTA in advance of the full resumption of international travel and would urge the Irish Government to prioritise its implementation.”

The issue with the CTA has arisen due to differing approaches by the Irish and UK governments. The Irish Government requires passengers from Britain to have a negative PCR test and they must also quarantine for 14 days on arrival. The UK Government has never imposed requirements for testing or quarantine for people travelling from anywhere on the island of Ireland to Britain. The Northern Ireland Assembly also has never imposed testing or quarantine on anyone travelling from Britain.

Both companies are also stressing that they need time to prepare for the resumption of travel. Urgent clarity is needed regarding dates so that the ferry companies can ensure they are ready from an operational perspective.

Published in Ferry
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Swedish ferry company Stena Line’s revenue from its onboard shops for the first quarter of the year has shown a large increase on its routes between the UK and the EU compared to the same period last year. The growth is due to 'Duty-Free' sales, which exceeded the company's expectations. It shows the huge potential the onboard retail sector has to provide a much-needed boost to the travel industry after lockdown.

Following Brexit, 'Duty-Free' sales are permitted onboard ferry routes between the UK and the EU. Passengers can make 'huge' savings, sometimes of up to 60%, compared to high street prices on alcohol, cigarettes and cosmetics, which can all be purchased tax-free.

Sales figures from the first three months of 2021 are far outstripping 2020, despite having only half the passengers travelling onboard the company’s ferries. Overall sales on UK – EU routes were 34% higher in Q1 2021, than they were in Q1 2020. These figures were even higher on the Irish Sea where they were up 53%, while they were 14.6% higher on the North Sea. Duty tends to be higher in the UK and the Republic of Ireland, than on the Continent, so there is more incentive to buy tax-free.

Stena Britannica

However, it is the amount that each passenger is spending that is showing the largest increases. On average the amount spent in Stena Line’s onboard shops per person has risen an impressive 80%, as people snap up bargains on the likes of Jameson Whisky, Absolut Vodka and Amber Leaf tobacco.

Stephen Bryden, Stena Line’s Head of Onboard Sales and Services, said: “‘we have invested heavily in revamping and, in some cases, extending our onboard shops so the response is very positive and has outstripped our expectations. Following the large demand that we are experiencing from people eager to enjoy the savings they can make onboard, the company will now be extending our sales offering even further. The ferry sector has suffered worse than many other sectors as we have remained fully operational 24/7 during pandemic, despite having lower passenger and freight levels, so the boost from 'Duty Free' is a welcome side-effect of Brexit not only for us but for all our passengers too.”

Sales of alcoholic drinks highest with popular brands leading the way. For instance on the Irish Sea sales of Jameson Whiskey for the first quarter of this year have outstripped sales for the whole of 2020, despite the much lower passenger levels.Figures are gathered from sales data on Stena Lines four UK routes where 'Duty Free' is currently permitted, these include routes from Wales to the Republic of England and the four routes between England and The Netherlands (see full list below).

Stena Line’s routes where 'Duty Free' is permitted

  • Holyhead – Dublin
  • Fishguard – Rosslare
  • Killingholme – Hook of Holland
  • Killingholme – Rotterdam Europoort
  • Harwich – Hook of Holland
  • Harwich – Rotterdam Europoort
Published in Stena Line
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A Dublin Bay sea mist that lay in the middle of the bay most of the morning had enveloped most of the south shore by lunchtime, reducing visibility down to 50 metres or less at Dun Laoghaire Harbour.

The morning had seen a large number of different types of pleasure craft enjoying the bright sunshine and calm conditions. 

Met Eireann had forecast Northeast or variable force 3 winds with some patches of mist or fog.

There were groups of different dinghy classes, sailing cruisers as well as fishing boats, jet skis and motor cruisers all enjoying one of the first weekends of 2021 afloat. 

The Stena Ferry disappears in the mist Photo: Barry O'NeillThe Stena Ferry disappears in the mist Photo: Barry O'Neill

Canoeists and paddleboarders and rowing boats hugged the shore at Scotsman's Bay as the mist grew thicker.

There were plenty of swimmers and day-trippers sampling the admittedly very cold February waters of just 7 degrees.

The extent of the mist meant that by 2.30 pm there most boating activities were kerbed with the fog lifting just after 4 pm.

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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