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Displaying items by tag: diving

Irish deep-sea diver Rory Golden is providing expertise to a new expedition to the Titanic which aims to recover the Marconi radio from the wreck, The Sunday Times reports.

The wireless Marconi telegraph was instrumental in saving more than 705 passengers from freezing Atlantic waters when the ship sank after striking an iceberg off Newfoundland in April 1912 with the loss of almost 1500 lives.

As Afloat reported previously, the ambitious project to retrieve the most famous marine radio in the world from 2.5 miles down in the Atlantic has finally secured legal approval.

The new expedition planned by RMS Titanic Inc, the salvor-in-possession, will be led by Dr David Gallo and French former naval officer Paul Henri Nargeolet.

Dublin-based Golden, who was the first Irish diver to visit the wreck site in almost 4,000 metres of water, has been engaged as a consultant to the company which has recovered over 5,500 artefacts in eight previous expeditions.

The former managing director of Virgin Records Ireland was dive safety operations manager for the Operation Titanic 2000 project which recovered 800 items - including the main ship’s wheel which he spotted. He returned in 2005 for a second dive, which was recorded in a BBC documentary.

In March 2013 he was a member of the team sponsored by Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos which salvaged five Apollo F-1 rocket engines from 4200 metres in the North Atlantic, including one from Apollo 11 which launched a man to the moon in 1969.

Golden’s participation is one of several Irish connections to the new diving expedition which is expected to cost at least 10 million US dollars.

A Mayo community’s support for the new venture also helped to secure recently approved US Admiralty Court permission for it.

A letter to the US Admiralty Court from Addergoole Titanic Society director Toss Gibbons, secretary Mary Rowland and public relations officer Frank Gibbons urged that it would “give its blessing” to RMS Titanic Inc to undertake the expedition. The society remembers 11 of the ship’s fatalities from the Mayo village of Laherdane and surrounding area.

“We spent a lot of time in Ireland, in Belfast and with the folks in Addergoole to put a plan together which would satisfy the court,” RMS Titanic Inc president Bretton Hunchak said.

The recovery of the Marconi telegraph is crucial to understanding “the story of all of the survivors”, Hunchak explained.

The Marconi Telegraph room as seen from the top of the Titanic Photo: Rory GoldenThe Marconi Telegraph room as seen from the top of the Titanic Photo: Rory Golden

“Ultimately, the Marconi radio system remains an unsung hero, responsible for countless generations of families that exist only because the radio cried out on behalf of their ancestors,” he said.

“ For that reason, we must recover this incredible piece of history, to rescue the radio that saved 705 lives from being taken from the world that fateful night."

The hatch to the Marconi Room Photo: Rory GoldenThe hatch to the Marconi Room Photo: Rory Golden

Hunchak said the original plan for the expedition was within a weather window between June and August of this year, and that might still take place.

“Obviously, with the Covid-19 pandemic, we have questions now and will make a decision on timing very shortly,” he said.

“The Marconi telegraph is recognisable, from our underwater photography, but if we recover it there will be considerable conservation required before we can take it around the world as part of our exhibition of artefacts,” he said.

Golden said the project was “fraught with a lot of unknown and known variables, such as the condition of the roof area, the wreck itself, currents, visibility” and other factors, but has “a very good chance of succeeding”.

The wreck of the Titanic was discovered by Dr Robert Ballard and Jean Louis Michel in a joint US/ French expedition on September 1st, 1985, some 963 miles northeast of New York and 453 miles southeast of the Newfoundland coastline.

More on the Sunday Times report here

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Divers of the Naval Service which form an elite unit in the force is operating at less than a quarter of its intended capacity as a result of the Defence Force’s retention crisis.

Naval Service Diving Section according to The Irish Times, is the only dive team in Ireland capable of carrying out deep sea operations. It has a wide variety of roles but its most prominent function is carrying out search and recovery operations for missing persons.

It carries out an average of 15 missing person searches every year, some of which last for up to two weeks at a time.

The diving section has an establishment strength of 27 divers but is operating with just six as a result of highly trained personnel leaving for the private sector. Moreover, the problem is compounded by a lack of replacements coming through.

The diving section has not been at full strength since before the reorganisation of the Defence Forces in 2012 which was marked by significant cuts to resources and a new manpower limit of 9,500.

Click here for further reading on the story. 

Published in Navy

Last Sunday, Wexford Sub Aqua Club, presented the Kilmore Quay branch of the RNLI, with a cheque for €1,000. The presentation was done just before the crew went out for their scheduled morning training exercise.

This money was raised by members and friends of the club at their annual Christmas Swim.

This year’s swim was noticeable due to the temperature of the water, which swimmers commented on as being the coldest since the club started to do the event.

Swim organiser, Ivan Donoghue said that “it was so cold, that while swimmers walked to the waters edge, the sand was cracking under their feet. We braved the water for a few minutes, but the members of all the RNLI face such conditions on every call they go on. We thank everyone who took part, those who sponsored the swimmers and the Kilmore Quay RNLI for being there to protect the people who use the waters around the Saltee Islands” 

The club’s next event is on Sunday April 22nd at 10.30am. It is a 5 mile fun run/walk around the scenic Kilmore Quay village and registration is at our clubhouse overlooking the Saltee islands. €10 entry for adults.

The club are currently in the process of teaching our five new members how to dive.

Published in Diving
Tagged under

RTÉ News reports that an investigation has begun into the death of an Irish boy in a boating incident in the United States last week.

Harry O’Connor, 8, died on Saturday (29 July) three days after he was involved in a boat capsize in the Cape Cod Canal near Boston.

According to TheJournal.ie, the boy — who was on a day trip with his parents — was trapped under the capsized vessel for more than 20 minutes.

O’Connor had moved to Boston with his family from Clonmel and also had ties to Duleek in Co Meath, where his funeral will take place this Thursday (3 August).

In other news, a post-mortem was set to take place yesterday (Monday 31 July) after a 57-year-old man died in a diving accident off Donegal last Friday (28 July)

John Alwright’s oxygen mask was dislodged after he was swept into a cave by an underwater current, as Independent.ie reportss Independent.ie reports.

Despite the best efforts of his diving companions, Alwright was unresponsive when he came to the surface.

Published in News Update
Tagged under

#Rescue116 - More than 100 divers have joined a major search since early this morning (Saturday 22 April) for Paul Ormsby and Ciaran Smith, the two Irish Coast Guard crew members still missing after the Rescue 116 tragedy over a month ago.

According to The Irish Times, an exclusion zone around the wreck site at Black Rock off Co Mayo has been lifted for the search, thought to be the largest ever co-ordinated dive in the history of the State.

Naval Service and Garda divers are joined by specialists in sub-sea search and recovery in combing the sea bed of at the western and south-western parts of the island, following the completion of a ‘360-degree’ terrain survey by the Army and Garda crime scene examiners.

The Irish Times has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Coastguard

#Rescue - The Irish Times reports on the rescue of eight divers off the Sligo coast after a boat capsized this morning (Sunday 19 March).

Sligo Bay RNLI were tasked to the scene off Aughris Pier in Sligo town after the incident during a diving excursion, rescuing seven from a heavy swell.

An eighth person was subsequently recovered from the water and airlifted to Sligo Hospital by the Irish Coast Guard helicopter Rescue 118, which was diverted from the ongoing search for the missing crew of Rescue 116.

Independent.ie reports that the latter diver was in serious condition, and that a second diver was later hospitalised.

Published in Rescue

#Lusitania - Questions have been raised by an Oireactas committee after a telegraph from the Lusitania wreck was lost during an unsupervised dive last summer.

According to RTÉ News, no archaeologist was present on the diving expedition on 13 July 2016 during which the telegraph sank to the ocean floor from a burst lift bag.

The committee heard from Terry Allen of the National Monuments Service that the incident would have occurred even with supervision by an archaeologist.

But committee chair Peadar Tóibín said Heritage Minister Heather Humphreys has “questions to answer” as the decision to allow the dive to one of Ireland’s most important wreck sites unsupervised was itself a “significant break” from protocol.

A subsequent dive led by Eoin McGarry on behalf of the Lusitania’s owner Gregg Bemis recovered a separate telegraph machine from its bridge, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Published in Diving
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#Diving - A number of main stage speakers have been announced for Dive Ireland 2017 at Athlone’s Hodson Bay Hotel from 4-5 March.

Marine salvage specialist Brian McAllister will talk the challenges of raising the Costa Concordia off the coast of Italy, a pioneering effort that involved the greatest minds and hands in the industry.

Renowned wreck diver Barry McGill discusses the struggle to control pivotal shipping waters in the North Atlantic off the Irish coast during the First World War by the use of U-boats and mines.

On a similar war theme, Irish-born but France-based diver and photographer Catherine Connors surveys the remains of the Second World War’s Operation Overlord, better known at the D-Day landings.

Closer to home, Tosh Lavery gives a brief history of the Garda Underwater Unit and its work on missing person and murder cases alike.

The Dive Ireland International Expo is the event of the year for all underwater enthusiasts, featuring two days of talks, trading and networking on Lough Ree that also includes the AGM of the Irish Underwater Council (CFT) on Sunday 5 March.

More details are available from DiveIreland.ie

Published in Diving

#Diving - Planning permission is being sought for a new hyperbaric therapy centre in Galway city centre, as Galway Bay FM reports.

Regularly used for the treatment of damaged body tissues, hyperbaric facilities are also key to the treatment of decompression sickness, or ‘the bends’ – a risk for deepwater divers.

Last November, Cork’s SCUBA diving community announced plans to raise funds for a local hyperbaric chamber, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Published in Diving

#Diving - The SCUBA diving community in Cork is raising funds for a hyperbaric chamber to treat divers with decompression sickness, as the Irish Examiner reports.

Otherwise known as ‘the bends’, the potentially fatal condition is contracted when nitrogen bubbles form in the bloodstream of divers who surface from deep dives too quickly.

However, there is only one hyperbaric chamber required for the necessary oxygen therapy that caters for diving emergencies in the Republic, located in Galway.

That’s prompted the creation of the Munster Hyperbaric Chamber Project, to provide emergency facilities for affected divers in Ireland’s south-west in time for the 2017 diving season. The Irish Examiner has more HERE.

In other diving news, two English SCUBA clubs have shared a top award for their expedition to Ratlin Island off the Causeway Coast, according to the Bury Times.

Divers from Bury and Wigan in the greater Manchester area were awarded the Expedition Trophy at the British Sub-Aqua Club Diving Conference recently for their reef and shipwreck dives out of Ballycastle — including one visit to a cruiser torpedoed during the First World War.

Published in Diving
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The Irish Coast Guard

The Irish Coast Guard is Ireland's fourth 'Blue Light' service (along with An Garda Síochána, the Ambulance Service and the Fire Service). It provides a nationwide maritime emergency organisation as well as a variety of services to shipping and other government agencies.

The purpose of the Irish Coast Guard is to promote safety and security standards, and by doing so, prevent as far as possible, the loss of life at sea, and on inland waters, mountains and caves, and to provide effective emergency response services and to safeguard the quality of the marine environment.

The Irish Coast Guard has responsibility for Ireland's system of marine communications, surveillance and emergency management in Ireland's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and certain inland waterways.

It is responsible for the response to, and co-ordination of, maritime accidents which require search and rescue and counter-pollution and ship casualty operations. It also has responsibility for vessel traffic monitoring.

Operations in respect of maritime security, illegal drug trafficking, illegal migration and fisheries enforcement are co-ordinated by other bodies within the Irish Government.

On average, each year, the Irish Coast Guard is expected to:

  • handle 3,000 marine emergencies
  • assist 4,500 people and save about 200 lives
  • task Coast Guard helicopters on missions

The Coast Guard has been around in some form in Ireland since 1908.

Coast Guard helicopters

The Irish Coast Guard has contracted five medium-lift Sikorsky Search and Rescue helicopters deployed at bases in Dublin, Waterford, Shannon and Sligo.

The helicopters are designated wheels up from initial notification in 15 minutes during daylight hours and 45 minutes at night. One aircraft is fitted and its crew trained for under slung cargo operations up to 3000kgs and is available on short notice based at Waterford.

These aircraft respond to emergencies at sea, inland waterways, offshore islands and mountains of Ireland (32 counties).

They can also be used for assistance in flooding, major inland emergencies, intra-hospital transfers, pollution, and aerial surveillance during daylight hours, lifting and passenger operations and other operations as authorised by the Coast Guard within appropriate regulations.

Irish Coastguard FAQs

The Irish Coast Guard provides nationwide maritime emergency response, while also promoting safety and security standards. It aims to prevent the loss of life at sea, on inland waters, on mountains and in caves; and to safeguard the quality of the marine environment.

The main role of the Irish Coast Guard is to rescue people from danger at sea or on land, to organise immediate medical transport and to assist boats and ships within the country's jurisdiction. It has three marine rescue centres in Dublin, Malin Head, Co Donegal, and Valentia Island, Co Kerry. The Dublin National Maritime Operations centre provides marine search and rescue responses and coordinates the response to marine casualty incidents with the Irish exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

Yes, effectively, it is the fourth "blue light" service. The Marine Rescue Sub-Centre (MRSC) Valentia is the contact point for the coastal area between Ballycotton, Co Cork and Clifden, Co Galway. At the same time, the MRSC Malin Head covers the area between Clifden and Lough Foyle. Marine Rescue Co-ordination Centre (MRCC) Dublin covers Carlingford Lough, Co Louth to Ballycotton, Co Cork. Each MRCC/MRSC also broadcasts maritime safety information on VHF and MF radio, including navigational and gale warnings, shipping forecasts, local inshore forecasts, strong wind warnings and small craft warnings.

The Irish Coast Guard handles about 3,000 marine emergencies annually, and assists 4,500 people - saving an estimated 200 lives, according to the Department of Transport. In 2016, Irish Coast Guard helicopters completed 1,000 missions in a single year for the first time.

Yes, Irish Coast Guard helicopters evacuate medical patients from offshore islands to hospital on average about 100 times a year. In September 2017, the Department of Health announced that search and rescue pilots who work 24-hour duties would not be expected to perform any inter-hospital patient transfers. The Air Corps flies the Emergency Aeromedical Service, established in 2012 and using an AW139 twin-engine helicopter. Known by its call sign "Air Corps 112", it airlifted its 3,000th patient in autumn 2020.

The Irish Coast Guard works closely with the British Maritime and Coastguard Agency, which is responsible for the Northern Irish coast.

The Irish Coast Guard is a State-funded service, with both paid management personnel and volunteers, and is under the auspices of the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport. It is allocated approximately 74 million euro annually in funding, some 85 per cent of which pays for a helicopter contract that costs 60 million euro annually. The overall funding figure is "variable", an Oireachtas committee was told in 2019. Other significant expenditure items include volunteer training exercises, equipment, maintenance, renewal, and information technology.

The Irish Coast Guard has four search and rescue helicopter bases at Dublin, Waterford, Shannon and Sligo, run on a contract worth 50 million euro annually with an additional 10 million euro in costs by CHC Ireland. It provides five medium-lift Sikorsky S-92 helicopters and trained crew. The 44 Irish Coast Guard coastal units with 1,000 volunteers are classed as onshore search units, with 23 of the 44 units having rigid inflatable boats (RIBs) and 17 units having cliff rescue capability. The Irish Coast Guard has 60 buildings in total around the coast, and units have search vehicles fitted with blue lights, all-terrain vehicles or quads, first aid equipment, generators and area lighting, search equipment, marine radios, pyrotechnics and appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE). The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) and Community Rescue Boats Ireland also provide lifeboats and crews to assist in search and rescue. The Irish Coast Guard works closely with the Garda Siochána, National Ambulance Service, Naval Service and Air Corps, Civil Defence, while fishing vessels, ships and other craft at sea offer assistance in search operations.

The helicopters are designated as airborne from initial notification in 15 minutes during daylight hours, and 45 minutes at night. The aircraft respond to emergencies at sea, on inland waterways, offshore islands and mountains and cover the 32 counties. They can also assist in flooding, major inland emergencies, intra-hospital transfers, pollution, and can transport offshore firefighters and ambulance teams. The Irish Coast Guard volunteers units are expected to achieve a 90 per cent response time of departing from the station house in ten minutes from notification during daylight and 20 minutes at night. They are also expected to achieve a 90 per cent response time to the scene of the incident in less than 60 minutes from notification by day and 75 minutes at night, subject to geographical limitations.

Units are managed by an officer-in-charge (three stripes on the uniform) and a deputy officer in charge (two stripes). Each team is trained in search skills, first aid, setting up helicopter landing sites and a range of maritime skills, while certain units are also trained in cliff rescue.

Volunteers receive an allowance for time spent on exercises and call-outs. What is the difference between the Irish Coast Guard and the RNLI? The RNLI is a registered charity which has been saving lives at sea since 1824, and runs a 24/7 volunteer lifeboat service around the British and Irish coasts. It is a declared asset of the British Maritime and Coast Guard Agency and the Irish Coast Guard. Community Rescue Boats Ireland is a community rescue network of volunteers under the auspices of Water Safety Ireland.

No, it does not charge for rescue and nor do the RNLI or Community Rescue Boats Ireland.

The marine rescue centres maintain 19 VHF voice and DSC radio sites around the Irish coastline and a digital paging system. There are two VHF repeater test sites, four MF radio sites and two NAVTEX transmitter sites. Does Ireland have a national search and rescue plan? The first national search and rescue plan was published in July, 2019. It establishes the national framework for the overall development, deployment and improvement of search and rescue services within the Irish Search and Rescue Region and to meet domestic and international commitments. The purpose of the national search and rescue plan is to promote a planned and nationally coordinated search and rescue response to persons in distress at sea, in the air or on land.

Yes, the Irish Coast Guard is responsible for responding to spills of oil and other hazardous substances with the Irish pollution responsibility zone, along with providing an effective response to marine casualties and monitoring or intervening in marine salvage operations. It provides and maintains a 24-hour marine pollution notification at the three marine rescue centres. It coordinates exercises and tests of national and local pollution response plans.

The first Irish Coast Guard volunteer to die on duty was Caitriona Lucas, a highly trained member of the Doolin Coast Guard unit, while assisting in a search for a missing man by the Kilkee unit in September 2016. Six months later, four Irish Coast Guard helicopter crew – Dara Fitzpatrick, Mark Duffy, Paul Ormsby and Ciarán Smith -died when their Sikorsky S-92 struck Blackrock island off the Mayo coast on March 14, 2017. The Dublin-based Rescue 116 crew were providing "top cover" or communications for a medical emergency off the west coast and had been approaching Blacksod to refuel. Up until the five fatalities, the Irish Coast Guard recorded that more than a million "man hours" had been spent on more than 30,000 rescue missions since 1991.

Several investigations were initiated into each incident. The Marine Casualty Investigation Board was critical of the Irish Coast Guard in its final report into the death of Caitriona Lucas, while a separate Health and Safety Authority investigation has been completed, but not published. The Air Accident Investigation Unit final report into the Rescue 116 helicopter crash has not yet been published.

The Irish Coast Guard in its present form dates back to 1991, when the Irish Marine Emergency Service was formed after a campaign initiated by Dr Joan McGinley to improve air/sea rescue services on the west Irish coast. Before Irish independence, the British Admiralty was responsible for a Coast Guard (formerly the Water Guard or Preventative Boat Service) dating back to 1809. The West Coast Search and Rescue Action Committee was initiated with a public meeting in Killybegs, Co Donegal, in 1988 and the group was so effective that a Government report was commissioned, which recommended setting up a new division of the Department of the Marine to run the Marine Rescue Co-Ordination Centre (MRCC), then based at Shannon, along with the existing coast radio service, and coast and cliff rescue. A medium-range helicopter base was established at Shannon within two years. Initially, the base was served by the Air Corps.

The first director of what was then IMES was Capt Liam Kirwan, who had spent 20 years at sea and latterly worked with the Marine Survey Office. Capt Kirwan transformed a poorly funded voluntary coast and cliff rescue service into a trained network of cliff and sea rescue units – largely voluntary, but with paid management. The MRCC was relocated from Shannon to an IMES headquarters at the then Department of the Marine (now Department of Transport) in Leeson Lane, Dublin. The coast radio stations at Valentia, Co Kerry, and Malin Head, Co Donegal, became marine rescue-sub-centres.

The current director is Chris Reynolds, who has been in place since August 2007 and was formerly with the Naval Service. He has been seconded to the head of mission with the EUCAP Somalia - which has a mandate to enhance Somalia's maritime civilian law enforcement capacity – since January 2019.

  • Achill, Co. Mayo
  • Ardmore, Co. Waterford
  • Arklow, Co. Wicklow
  • Ballybunion, Co. Kerry
  • Ballycotton, Co. Cork
  • Ballyglass, Co. Mayo
  • Bonmahon, Co. Waterford
  • Bunbeg, Co. Donegal
  • Carnsore, Co. Wexford
  • Castlefreake, Co. Cork
  • Castletownbere, Co. Cork
  • Cleggan, Co. Galway
  • Clogherhead, Co. Louth
  • Costelloe Bay, Co. Galway
  • Courtown, Co. Wexford
  • Crosshaven, Co. Cork
  • Curracloe, Co. Wexford
  • Dingle, Co. Kerry
  • Doolin, Co. Clare
  • Drogheda, Co. Louth
  • Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin
  • Dunmore East, Co. Waterford
  • Fethard, Co. Wexford
  • Glandore, Co. Cork
  • Glenderry, Co. Kerry
  • Goleen, Co. Cork
  • Greencastle, Co. Donegal
  • Greenore, Co. Louth
  • Greystones, Co. Wicklow
  • Guileen, Co. Cork
  • Howth, Co. Dublin
  • Kilkee, Co. Clare
  • Killala, Co. Mayo
  • Killybegs, Co. Donegal
  • Kilmore Quay, Co. Wexford
  • Knightstown, Co. Kerry
  • Mulroy, Co. Donegal
  • North Aran, Co. Galway
  • Old Head Of Kinsale, Co. Cork
  • Oysterhaven, Co. Cork
  • Rosslare, Co. Wexford
  • Seven Heads, Co. Cork
  • Skerries, Co. Dublin Summercove, Co. Cork
  • Toe Head, Co. Cork
  • Tory Island, Co. Donegal
  • Tramore, Co. Waterford
  • Waterville, Co. Kerry
  • Westport, Co. Mayo
  • Wicklow
  • Youghal, Co. Cork

Sources: Department of Transport © Afloat 2020

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