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Displaying items by tag: Waterford Estuary

Coastwatch has welcomed a High Court decision closing the Waterford estuary to razor shell dredging without proper environmental assessment.

The ruling has implications for fishing activity on marine sites which are designated as Natura 2000 locations, Coastwatch director Karin Dubksy has said.

The High Court ruling issued last week quashes permission to dredge for razor shells in the Waterford estuary.

The ruling says that the decision to permit the activity was made without screening or appropriate assessment under Article 6(3) of the EU Habitats Directive to check if there is no adverse impact on the integrity of the site.

Last September, Coastwatch secured a temporary injunction preventing fishing for razor clams in the Waterford estuary, pending the outcome of a legal challenge.

It took proceedings against the Sea Fisheries Protection Agency (SFPA), the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland and the Attorney General.

Ms Dubsky said that the final ruling delivered on July 13th involves an undertaking that the Minister will agree to review the Sea Fisheries Regulations statutory instrument 290/2013 by November 30th this year.

This would ensure that Irish law “fully transposes the requirements of EU environmental law and, in particular, the EU Habitats Directive”, she said.

“Coastwatch will be entitled to make submissions to this review,” she said, and the State is responsible for the non-governmental organisation’s costs in the legal case.

“There has been too much optimism that the sea will cope with almost every private or corporate use anyone comes up with. The sea can’t and we need to protect it,” Ms Dubsky said.

“On top of that, climate change is already impacting on estuarine and coastal ecosystems. A hot spell can cause local mass death of organisms. There aren’t enough marine protected areas (MPAs) as connected safe havens to support species survival and those we have aren’t managed properly,” she said.

“The new Programme for Government sets out some positive plans, and with COVID payments and changes in markets, there is a real opportunity now to restructure and focus on ocean health,” she said.

“ We should support creation of marine protected areas, restoration and management plans and traditional low impact fisheries with locally designed closed areas,” she said.

The Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine said it was pleased that the case had been brought to a “satisfactory conclusion by means of an agreed settlement”.

It said that “while a commitment to review the Sea Fisheries Regulations SI 290 of 2013 does not form part of the settlement submitted to the High Court, the department has committed to undertake a review of SI 290 of 2013 by November 30th this year”.

Published in Marine Wildlife

A maintenance dredging campaign has begun in recent days at the Port of Waterford where activities will involve the waters of Duncannon Bar, Cheekpoint, and at the port's main terminal at Belview, writes Jehan Ashmore

Prior to the operations at the south-east port, the Cypriot flagged Shoalway, a trailing suction hopper dredger had been carrying out operations for the Dublin Port Company. Shoalway sailed from the capital to arrive on the Waterford Estuary on Sunday. 

According to the Port of Waterford (click to consult campaign notice here), the dredger will dispose spoil at an approved site south west of Hook Head, Co. Wexford. Dredging will be followed by a bed levelling campaign by the vessels, Fastnet Sound and or the Glenesk.

Afloat adds that Irish Dredging which is a subsidiary of Royal Boskalis Westminster nv, the world’s largest dredging group, was given the contract from the Port of Waterford. The extensive fleet of the Dutch group provides Irish Dredging access to the use a of wide range of vessels for projects around the Irish coast.

Further tracking of the Shoalway since introduction on the Waterford Estaury has seen the 90m long dredger kept busy between Cheekpoint to the spoiling grounds out to sea.

The campaign according to the Port of Waterford is expected to last approximately 24 days.

Published in Irish Ports

#Irishports - The Port of Waterford have issued a Marine Notice in recent days to advise all ship owners, shipmasters, agents, fishing vessels, pleasure craft users, seafarers and fishery organisations of a dredging campaign, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The dredging operation along Waterford Estuary began in mid-March and according to the south-east multi-modal Port the campaign will continue until around 6 April.

Carrying out these works is the task of trailing suction hopper dredger Freeway which will conduct dredging activities in the vicinity of Belview Port. The lo-lo facility located downriver of Waterford City is the main port along the estuary.

Freeway is operated by UK firm, Royal Boskalis Westminster based in Hampshire. They are no strangers to these waters having been contracted previously by the port and more recently from the Dublin Port Company. Due to berth capacity constraints the 92m dredger during December had to dock in Dun Laoghaire Harbour.

On this occasion, Freeway's role on Waterford Estuary will include duties carried off Cheekpoint and at the Duncannon Bar located further downriver and beyond where the Passage East ferry links to Ballyhack.

Disposal material from Freeway will take place at an approved site south west of Hook Head. Following such work a bed-levelling campaign will be assigned to the Waterford City based catamaran craft Fastnet Sound.

Published in Irish Ports

#Cruiseliners - Anchored off Dunmore East, Waterford Estuary this morning is the 'Solstice' class Celebrity Silhouette, which had sailed overnight from Cork (Cobh) Harbour, writes Jehan Ashmore.

Dunmore East, a fishing harbour village set in beautiful surroundings is a gateway for cruise visitors. Tenders from the Celebrity Cruises ship are is use to disembark those ashore and begin exploring the local attractions and activities. In addition the south-east region offers destinations beyond Waterford in the neighbouring counties.

Asides today's call by Celebrity Silhouette, Port of Waterford is set to welcome a further four cruisecallers with Azamara Pursuit due next on August 26th. The remaining trio call next month, marking the season's end. Brillance of the Seas is scheduled on September 3rd, Ocean Majesty on the 4th and the concluding caller will be Nautica on the 24th.

Afloat has calculated the total passenger capacity of the quartet of cruiseships to be 4,475 passengers. Based from this, the call of Celebrity Silhouette, given its capacity of 2,850 alone clearly demonstrates the importance of these considerably larger cruiseships to Waterford estuary. Smaller cruisecallers though with potentially high-spending clientele, head to Belview Port and upriver on the Suir along Waterford City quays.  

According to the recently published Dept. of Transport's: Transport Trends report, the cruiseship sector is an increasingly important element of maritime activity in Irish waters. The number of cruiseship visits grew by 12% from 209 in 2016 to 234 in 2017, while the number of cruise ship passengers rose by 19% to 264,763 in 2017.

The call of the 122,000 tonnes Celebrity Silhouette is a boost to the local ecomony as the Port of Waterford has faired less compared to other ports. This was a conclusion drawn from the report, as Waterford had 37% fewer cruise passengers last year than in 2016 at 4,710.

Not suprisingly, the larger main ports of Dublin and Cork dominated the cruiseship market in 2017. According to CSO figures compiled in the report, these ports combined hosted 83% of ship visits and 93% of the passengers.

Among the callers to Dublin Port this season, is Celebrity Silhouette which notably for the first time was homeported in the capital port. As reported earlier this year, the US based Celebrity Cruises was estimated to handle over 14,000 people start their holiday from Dublin Port. The Maltese flagged ship easily became the largest such cruiseship to do.

The concept of homeporting in Dublin Port is not unique as last year, the capital port welcomed Cruise & Maritime Voyages 46,000 tonnes Magellan. The 1,250 passenger cruiseship continues this season to offer direct no-fly cruises.

In addition the Bahamas flagged Magellen makes a new departure this year as CMV will from next month also offer direct cruises from Cork.

In May and June 2019, Celebrity are to deploy Celebrity Reflection which is scheduled to sail from Dublin as part of a mini-season offering five cruises from Ireland.

Published in Cruise Liners
Tagged under

#NewFlagship - Half of all cruiseship calls to visit Waterford Estuary are due in the first of a three-month season in which Afloat has identified to include a brand new cruiseship, writes Jehan Ashmore.

According to the cruiseship line-up for 2017, Afloat has noted that eight out of a total of 16 cruiseships are to visit the south-east region in the opening month of June. The leaves the balance of four cruiseships to call in August and equally the same number for the concluding month of September. 

The Port of Waterford has terminals dotted on the estuary where 1,000 years ago Viking longboats headed upriver to firmly establish a trading port. This established Ireland's oldest city. In more recent centuries the city became world famous for its crystal making traditions. A popular tourist attraction as well as to the manor estate gardens on the environs of the city. 

Brand New Cruiseship Call

As referred above Afloat has identified the call of a brand new cruiseship which is to be the Silver Muse, the flagship of Monaco based Silverseas Cruises. The 40,700 gross tonnage newbuild accommodates 596 guests in ultra-luxurious facilities. The newcomer is an exciting evolution of their Silver Spirit.

Afloat will have more to report on Silver Muse which will make a pre-inaugural voyage in home seas next month on a round trip voyage from Monte-Carlo of Mediterranean gems. Among them calls to quintessential destinations such as Barcelona, Palma and Portofino.

As for the first to caller to Waterford in early June is Artania. Pheonix Reissen, the German operators of the ship which would be more familiar to most as the original Royal Princess completed in 1984 for US based Princess Cruises. The 44,500 tonnes Artania with a 1,100 passenger capacity has been allocated an anchorage call off Dunmore East.

The predominant fishing harbour at the entrance to the estuary is where a further seven cruise callers will too be making an anchorage call.

Ultra luxury small-cruiseship Hebridean Sky of Noble Caledonia, is to call twice. Firstly calling in June at Belview, the main cargo (mostly lo-lo containers) terminal for the Port of Waterford.

On the second call in August, the diminutive sized ship is expected to head upriver to the city quays. The 4,200 tonnes ship is to berth along Frank Cassin Wharf, the former Bell Lines lo-lo terminal.

Published in Cruise Liners

#Cargoships - One of Arklow Shipping’s newest cargoships, the single-hold Arklow Cape is today docked on the River Suir at Belview the Port of Waterford, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The Irish flagged 5,053dwt newbuild with Arklow as a port of registry, was launched in October last year and delivered into service the following month. The ‘C’’ class vessel is the second of a 10-ship order from Ferus Smit’s Dutch yard in Westerbroek.

Arklow Cape departed from Bayonne on the French Atlantic coast and the voyage took two days to reach Waterford Estuary. The newbuild arrived yesterday evening to Belview Terminal, downriver of Waterford City.

In the career of Arklow Cape typical cargoes will include grain to be carried in a ship that measures 87m in length overall and is a similar size to cargoship Lisa. The 89m vessel dating to 2001, however while on the neighbouring River Barrow more than a week ago got into difficulties having grounded.

Fortunately all crew were safe following the incident which saw the cargoship become stuck on a mud-bank south of the Pink Rock. The location is between the disused Barrow Railway Bridge and New Ross Port, the ship's destination.

Tugs were dispatched to the scene from Waterford based operator, Fastnet Shipping. Among the tugs involved was the 25 ton bollard pull tug Bargarth which came to the aid of the St. John's registered cargoship. 

The undamaged Lisa was refloated and was able to continue the short leg upriver to the inland port to discharge a 4,500 tonne dry cargo.

After an inspection by maritime authorities, the cargoship was permitted to set sail.

Published in Ports & Shipping

#FerryOffService - The Passage East Ferry service on Waterford Estuary has been suspended until next Monday (14th March) due to maintenance, according to AA Roadwatch.

FBD Tintern is currently off service as otherwise Afloat adds the 130 passenger/30 vehicle capacity ferry serves the River Suir crossing linking the villages of Ballyhack in Co. Wexford and Passage East in Co. Waterford.

The short passage only takes around 15 minutes and with an average of 120 crossings every day keeps the 236 tonnes FBD Tintern busy, notably during peak commuter times and in the summer.

The present car ferry service began in 1982 when the Dunbrody replaced a small boat ferry service that had been in place for hundreds of years. In January, the ferry business was reported as up for sale. 

Published in Ferry

#thisislandnation – After an absence of several years it is a pleasure to return to the airwaves, a decision I have taken in pursuance of my belief that the national media is seriously neglectful of maritime matters. The marine sphere is not adequately served by the national media, print or broadcast. The specialist media such as AFLOAT and community radio offers an alternative voice, so do social media outlets.

THIS ISLAND NATION is a monthly hour-long radio programme of which the first edition available here on Afloat.ie highlights the decay forced upon coastal communities by government and EU policies.

Sean Doherty, who I interviewed for my programme at the 'EMPOWERING COASTAL COMMUNITIES' Conference in County Waterford, is a man who is trying to preserve his local community at Cheekpoint on the Waterford Estuary. He describes how the ending of the drift net fishery, followed by the closure of the eel fishery, has contributed to what he sees as the destruction of his community. Men earned a living from the fisheries for their families, others were employed to maintain engines on the boats, more had work repairing the fishing boats and local restaurants served their catches as local produce. But these aspects of life in Cheekpoint no longer exist. The village has suffered heavily. His interview indicates how decisions were made by politicians and State administrators without carrying out any examination of the social effects and the damage they would cause to the communities affected. Those communities were treated with disregard and what amounts to contempt for their future. It is a sombre story.

The oceans are, in places, a wilderness, sweeping the globe and washing the edges of our cities. They provide opportunity and potential. The coastal communities are the first interface of Ireland with the sea at the coastal rim of this island nation.

So why is it that the sea is not regarded as a priority national interest?

The answer lies in a failure of political and economic perception, fuelled by an adherence to globalisation rather than pride in being an island nation.

Ireland is the most western island nation in Europe, but there is no pride evident in Government circles that we Irish are islanders. At the highest level of political life and civil service administration, as well as amongst the national media and the general public, there is a failure of perception to realise that being islanders gives Irish people an unique place in Europe. The concept of globalisation, which policies favour, is the destruction of uniqueness.

As Sean Doherty says in the interview, there are publicly expressed concerns and movements calling for the protection of indigenous communities around the world; and for the promotion of multi-culturalism in Ireland; but there is little or no interest and no movements for the preservation of the indigenous people of Ireland –the coastal and fishing communities.

The voice of the sea can speak to the soul, that voice should be heard by those who make the decisions which affect Ireland.

While there are some positive steps, which are also outlined in the programme - THIS ISLAND NATION - which you can hear on this website, these are not enough to counterbalance neglect of the maritime sphere. More is needed.

Cheekpoint nestles in the Waterford Estuary near where the Rivers Suir and Barrow meet, lying beneath Minaun Hill and has a magnificent, panoramic view across Waterford Harbour.

Sean Doherty described himself to me as an angry, frustrated man at what he sees as he looks out from his home on the estuary, "because what I am seeing is destruction caused by a form of blindness."

The Prong is the local boat which has been used by fishermen from the village. The first one built in many years is pictured below, together with an example of an older boat. The coastal communities are endeavouring to maintain their maritime heritage. So should the nation.

JOHNGOSSIPCHEEKPOINTPRONG

Above John Gossip with the new Cheekpoint Prong and below an older example of the craft

OLDER EXAMPLEOFCHEEKPOINTPRONG

 

Twitter: @TomMacSweeney

Published in Island Nation

#CRUISE CALLS – Waterford is to welcome its first cruise caller in 2012 with the Quest (1992/1,180grt) an ice-strengthened expedition cruiseship which is to dock next month along the city-quays, writes Jehan Ashmore.

Normally she operates around the Scottish Isles, Norway, Greenland and Spitsbergen. This year she will make her itineraries for the first time around Ireland, England and Wales.

The stout looking Danish built vessel is just 50m in length, has a beam of 11m and draws 3.5m, this allows her to reach more destinations in difficult conditions. She carries around 50 passengers and a crew half that number. For images including interiors and deck plans click HERE

Quest is also scheduled to make a second call to the south-east city in May. Following both these calls another 17 cruise callers are lined up for the season which runs until September.

Among the callers are the 940 passenger capacity Crystal Symphony, the 66,000 tonnes Marina which only entered service last year, Ocean Princess (for a dry-dock slideshow click HERE) and the 1988 built Prinsendam.

Depending on the vessel's draught, the location of where they will call in Waterford estuary will vary. Aside the city quays, the other berth is in Belview and for deep drafted vessels, they take anchorage off Dunmore East. To view the full cruise call list click HERE.

Published in Cruise Liners

#PORTS & SHIPPING- Berthed at the Steam Packet Quay, Drogheda is the suction-trailer dredger Lough Foyle (1979/868grt) which is on contract work with the Drogheda Port Company, writes Jehan Ashmore.

Following the sale last month of Hebble Sand, as previously reported on Afloat.ie (clcik HERE), the Lough Foyle (PHOTO) is now the only port-owned dredger on the island of Ireland. The Londonderry Port & Harbour Commissioners (LPHC) purchased the vessel from Dutch interests in 2009. She was originally the Saeftinge, built in 1979 at the Van Goor Scheepswerf in Monnickendam.

Since her introduction she has performed previous dredging operations to include the Drogheda Bar leading into the Co. Louth port. Her most recent contract was in Waterford Estuary, from where she arrived from on Tuesday after an overnight voyage.

In addition she has worked at the new Stena Line ferryport terminal at Loch Ryan, Cairnryan, to see related report click HERE. The Scottish ferryport is due to be officially opened tomorrow, to read more including the newly introduced 'Superfast' sisters click HERE.

Published in Ports & Shipping
Page 1 of 2

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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