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Displaying items by tag: ferry

Candela, the electric hydrofoil vessel manufacturer, has secured €24.5m in funding, marking the largest round in the company's history.

The funding will be used to expand production of the Candela P-12 ferry, the first fast and long-range electric ferry on the market. The P-12 uses hydrofoil technology to cut lifetime emissions by 97.5% compared to diesel vessels while allowing operators to halve costs. Groupe Beneteau, the world's largest boat manufacturer, was a key partner in the funding round.

Candela's hydrofoil craft use 80% less energy than other ships and boats, offering operators lower operational costs and incentivising a transition to sustainable vessels

Published in Ferry

The bow of the former Aran island ferry Naomh Éanna, which has been broken up for scrap, is en route to Galway.

As The Irish Independent reports, Port of Galway harbourmaster Capt Brian Sheridan hopes to take delivery of the bow within the coming weeks.

He has said he is “thrilled to have secured the bow section” and plans to restore it and have it displayed on the quays in Galway “as a reminder of the historic trading link” between the city and the Aran islands.

He said it was “ a sad day for maritime Ireland that plans to save the ship fell foul of a raft of issues”.

Capt Sheridan had supported efforts to return the ferry to Galway for marine heritage and tourism purposes, after images of it listing to one side in Dublin’s Grand Canal basin prompted calls for it to be saved.

Year-long efforts to realise that failed, and a decision was made to scrap the deteriorating hull.

A contract was awarded last year to Cunningham Civil and Marine to dismantle it.

The bow of the former Aran island ferry Naomh ÉannaThe bow of the former Aran island ferry Naomh Éanna

The 65-year-old ship formerly run by CIÉ as a passenger ferry serving the Aran islands from Galway had been one of the last large vessels built by the Liffey Dockyard Company.

Shortly after it began serving the island route, it was drafted in to the search for survivors of the KLM flight 607E which crashed into the Atlantic ocean some 160 km west of Connemara shortly after take-off from Shannon airport in August 1958.

As Afloat has previously reported, Inis Mór resident Micheál Ó Goill has said islanders had mixed memories of it as sailings could take six to seven hours.

Although it was “not a good weather boat”, it had its own sick bay for use by pregnant women and others, and it also had a bar.

The Naomh Éanna was withdrawn from service in 1986, and was then purchased by the Irish Nautical Trust which brought it to Dublin’s Grand Canal basin.

It was part of the “set” in the 1996 Neil Jordan film on Michael Collins, and was used as a floating surf shop.

The most recent owner, Sam Field Corbett of Irish Ship and Barge Fabrication Company Limited (ISBF) sought Fáilte Ireland support to have it restored as a tourism project or a floating hotel.

When that was unsuccessful, Galway City Council was approached, but it told him there would be “planning issues”.

Fáilte Ireland has said that the owners of the Naomh Eanna applied for Fáilte Ireland capital funding under the Large Grant Scheme 2016 scheme, but the application “was not successful as it did not meet the minimum eligibility criteria necessary”.

Richard Cunningham of Cunningham Civil and Marine said that his company would deliver the bow to Galway, and several other artefacts associated with the ship, including its propeller, anchors and chain, would be saved for historic purposes.

Read The Irish Independent here

Published in Historic Boats

Kerry's Peig Sayers ferry has been a popular mode of transportation for tourists travelling from Dingle Harbour to the Great Blasket Island for more than two decades.

The island ferry is owned by Billy O'Connor, who took over the business from his grandfather and granduncle in 2014. Billy operates the Great Blasket Island Experience, a seasonal tourism enterprise that offers full-day eco-tours from April to October and overnight stays in three cottages on the island. The ferry, a Red Bay Stormforce 11 RIB built in County Antrim, also transports goods from the mainland throughout the year and manages the island's ecosystem during the off-season.

The island ferry is owned by Billy O'Connor, who took over the business from his grandfather and granduncle in 2014The island ferry is owned by Billy O'Connor, who took over the business from his grandfather and granduncle in 2014

However, the ageing ferry has been causing problems for Billy's business due to frequent engine breakdowns. To address this issue, the Brexit Blue Economy Enterprise Scheme, implemented by Bord Iaschaigh Mhara (BIM), has awarded a grant worth €65,000 for fitting the Peig Sayers with new engines. This investment will make the boat more reliable and improve the overall business. The new engines will give the Peig Sayers a new lease of life, ensuring that Kerry's famous ferry will continue to provide invaluable service throughout the year.

Published in Ferry

On Saturday, August 26th, Galway Girl Cruises will set sail from Galway Docks, inviting passengers on a cultural journey of discovery, music, and folklore. The tour is operated by 3rd generation seafaring brothers, Tommy and Patrick Connolly, who will be accompanied by a special lineup of musical guests.

The newest boat tour offering on Galway Bay, Galway Girl Cruises, is more than just a sightseeing experience, say the promoters.

It promises passengers an immersive cultural experience, celebrating Ireland's Wild Atlantic Way. From traditional music sessions to engaging maritime stories, every moment onboard offers a glimpse into the heart and soul of Galway.

Patrick Connolly, skipper and traditional boatbuilder, says that the tours are not just about a boat trip but about sharing cultural heritage, stories, and music of their ancestors. He adds, "Our family has always been tied to the sea, and we are honoured to share this legacy and love of the ocean with others."

The Galway Bay Cruise offers breathtaking views of famous landmarks such as Gleninagh Castle, Black Head Lighthouse, Martello towers, and the distant Aran Islands, with live commentary. Passengers will be entertained with vibrant storytelling of Galway coast's maritime misadventures and captivated by traditional Irish music and dance performances by the crew and a host of special guests.

The Connolly brothers have crafted an unforgettable 90-minute experience that resonates with the heartbeat of Ireland, beyond just a cruise. Passengers are promised a journey that's both scenic and deeply cultural, from the raw beauty of the Burren to the majestic Aran Islands on the horizon.

Tommy Connolly says, "Travelling through the water brings a sense of venturing into the unknown. The ever-changing light, wind conditions, and potential wildlife sightings make every journey a new adventure. Be it birds, dolphins, or even whales, there's always something wondrous to see and feel."

The Devane Brothers, Patrick and Gerard, who are 5th generation 'sean-nós' (old-style) dancers and musicians from Connemara, will join the crew on Saturday, August 26th.

Passengers are invited to come aboard, soak in the rugged beauty of Galway's coast, and get ready for a rhythmic and soul-stirring Irish musical treat. Join the crew for some good craic on the Galway Girl Cruises launch. Secure your spot now here

Published in Galway Harbour
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Aran Island businessman Tarlach de Blacam has called on Minister for Rural and Community Development Heather Humphreys to withdraw a tender for a new cargo vessel service to Inis Meáin due to the “highly dangerous” nature of the main pier.

As The Sunday Independent reports, de Blacam of Cniotáil Inis Meáin (Inis Meáin Knitting Company) has warned that lives are at risk if the pier at An Córa continues to be used.

Two people died, and there have been several ferry accidents at the pier at An Córa on Inis Meáin since its construction.

Tarlach de Blacam of Inis MeainTarlach de Blacam of Inis Meain Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy

Former Gaeltacht and Islands minister Eamon Ó Cuív (FF) says he supports de Blacam’s call and says an alternative and safer pier, An Caladh Mór, should be completed and used by State-funded ferry services.

Ó Cuiv says Ms Humphreys, who has just published a new ten-year island policy this week, must respond positively to the demand on safety grounds.

A study by consultants Kirk McClure Morton in 2004 commissioned by Galway County Council and funded by the Department of the Gaeltacht stated that the pier at An Córa on Inis Meáin could only provide safe berthage for 70 per cent of the time “in a typical year”.

The 2004 report identified the alternative, An Caladh Mór, as “most suitable for providing safe and reliable access to Inis Meáin by sea”.

Read The Sunday Independent here

Published in Island News
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A two million euro project to develop a “zero emissions” solution for high-speed passenger ferries is yielding positive results, according to the research team led by Solent University in England.

The group also involving Chartwell Marine and Newcastle Marine Services, aims to develop an electric hydro-foiling high-speed trimaran, which can carry up to 40 passengers on short to medium-range coastal routes.

The project is being funded by Innovate UK, a British government initiative.

Initial testing has demonstrated the potential for a foiling trimaran with low drag and power requirements, according to Giles Barkley, leader of Solent University’s yacht engineering-based degrees.

“A traditional, diesel-powered, 40-passenger catamaran ferry operating at 25 knots typically requires well over 1000kw of power,” Barkley says.

“The trimaran foiling ferry concept has the potential to reach 28 knots using just 250kW of power - equivalent to the power used by two modern electric family cars (2×125Kw motors),” he says.

“This means it is possible to power the craft using zero-emission electric motors, with a significant reduction in associated fuel and operational costs compared to a traditional diesel craft,” he says.

Solent University project lead Dr Laurie Wright, who is associate professor of marine sustainability, says that recent advancements in electrical propulsion technology mean “zero-emission, low-drag, high-speed medium-capacity passenger vessels are now viable”.

"These types of passenger vessels can open “blue corridors”, encouraging a shift from road to alternative transport on otherwise underutilised coastal waterways,” Wright says.

The UK Government is funding the development of new clean maritime technology across a two-year period in 12 regions. It aims to generate highly skilled jobs and position Britain as a “world leader in low carbon maritime”.

Published in Ferry
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Cape Clear Ferries has announced its summer schedule for West Cork, taking in Baltimore, Cape Clear Island, The Fastnet Rock and Schull.

The announcement comes amid considerable excitement at the launch of the newest addition to their fleet – the ‘Carraig Aonair’ (formerly Spirit of Doolin).

The Carrig Aonair is certified to carry 200 passengers to Ireland’s most southerly point. Most importantly, the ferry is weatherproof and built to withstand unpredictable Irish weather conditions.

Just in time for summer, visitors can circumnavigate the iconic Fastnet Rock Lighthouse in the comfortable surrounds of the new ferry – with panoramic 360 views from both inside and out - with large saloon windows to enjoy the view and seating for 100 passengers inside.

The Launch of Cape Clear Ferries’ new-200 passenger fast ferry (the Carraig Aonair). The multi-award-winning ferry service takes in Baltimore, Cape Clear Island, The Fastnet Rock and Schull with panoramic 360 views from both inside and out Photo: Miki BarlokThe Launch of Cape Clear Ferries’ new-200 passenger fast ferry (the Carraig Aonair). The multi-award-winning ferry service takes in Baltimore, Cape Clear Island, The Fastnet Rock and Schull with panoramic 360 views from both inside and out Photo: Miki Barlok

The tour has also been named among the top tours in Ireland by National Geographic and has topped the bill as an outstanding West Cork Maritime Tourism experience. Fáilte Ireland has also featured footage of one of its ferries rounding the Fastnet Rock in its national and international television ads.

Speaking in relation to the launch of the summer schedule, Karen Cottrell from Cape Clear Ferries said:

“There is always great excitement and anticipation ahead of our regular schedule launches at the beginning of the summer season, but this year we are thrilled to have the option to provide faster and more frequent tours around the famous Fastnet Rock – the tallest and widest rock lighthouse in Ireland and the UK.

“This offers a brilliant backdrop for great family adventures - sailing around the towering rock, savouring its rich history and magnificent location, often seeing whales, dolphins and basking sharks en route.

“Passengers can also visit the picturesque Cape Clear Island and the Queen of Carbery’s Hundred Isles, while those who want to take the tour as the sun sets can avail of our hugely popular twilight tours, which return again this year.

Meanwhile, a sister company, Cork Harbour Cruises, was established to showcase the coastal areas along Cork City, passing Blackrock Castle and on to Cobh, (and recently named ‘Best New Business’ at this year’s Cork Business Association Awards) also continues its scenic harbour tours. Docked at Custom House Quay at the centre of Cork City, it will also welcome passengers on board throughout the summer with corporate packages and twilight tours available.

Published in Ferry
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A fuel leak is believed to have caused a fire on board a passenger ferry linking Ballyhack, Co Wexford with Passage East in Waterford, last year.

A Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) report says the crew of the Frazer Tintern reacted immediately after the master of the vessel detected a strong smell of diesel fuel while en route to Passage East in early August 2021.

A crew member had also called the master to say he could also detect a strong smell of the fuel and was going to investigate. The incident occurred at around 18.05 hours on August 5th, 2021.

The MCIB report says that when the crew member got to the mesh door at the number one (No.1) engine compartment, he was met with black smoke and flames.

“The crewmember notified the master straight away that they had a fire onboard. The master immediately shut down the No.1 engine and turned off the engine room fans,” it says.

“Two crewmembers then activated two portable fire extinguishers and rigged fire hoses to provide boundary cooling,”it says.

The vessel continued to the Passage East slipway to get passengers off as quickly and safely as possible, it says, although the fire was brought under control.

It says that on arrival, all passengers and vehicles were “disembarked in a safe manner”.

“The vessel was then secured, and the remaining engines shut down. When the smoke dispersed fully, the crew investigated the engine room to confirm the fire had been extinguished,”it says.

The two-deck crewmembers used portable fire extinguishers, the fire was knocked back, and fire hoses were run out to provide boundary cooling while the master continued to navigate the vessel towards Passage East slipway, it says.

The report says that the machinery space fire suppression system was not operated. The vessel was moored up, and the remaining engines were shut down.

“The three crewmembers then carried out a visual inspection of the engine compartment after the remaining smoke had dispersed and confirmed that the fire was fully extinguished,” it says.

The MCIB report says the fire was “most likely caused by a return line fuel leak on No.1 main engine providing fuel to the area”.

It says that the volume and pressure of the fuel was greatly increased by the fuel return line being blocked or shut off, while the ambient high temperature and swirling airflow in the vicinity assisted in the atomisation of the fuel.

It says the fuel may have been ignited by arcing of the No.1 main engine alternator, but it was more likely to have been from fuel spraying onto hot surfaces such as the engine exhaust manifold or turbocharger casing.

It says that shutting down the engine removed the source of fuel from the fire and would have had a far greater effect in extinguishing it than the use of portable extinguishers.

It says that due to the extent of the fire and subsequent damage to No.1 engine, “the exact location and cause of the fuel leak has been impossible to determine”.

It recommends that the owners/operators should ensure that all return line flexible fuel hoses are fixed as per the engine manufacturer’s recommendations.

It also says the owners/operators should arrange to have the airflow from the machinery space ducted away from the main car deck and clear of any public areas. This is to ensure that a fire in the machinery space will not impinge on public areas.

It says the owners/operators should arrange to have the shut-off valves removed from the fuel system return lines to prevent the potential of over-pressurisation of the system. It also recommends that they need to ensure that the firefighting procedures and domestic safety management systems put in place post the incident are “followed and practiced and logged regularly”.

The MCIB reports recommends that the Minister for Transport should issue a marine notice to owners/masters of passenger vessels to remind them that “in the case of a fire or other potentially serious incident a distress/Pan Pan call as appropriate should be made at the earliest opportunity”.

It also says the minister should request a review of manning and crew qualification requirements for Class IV passenger vessels operating in restricted waters as per action 25 of the Maritime Safety Strategy of 2015.

It notes that the owners initiated an internal enquiry into the incident immediately before any repairs were undertaken.

“ This enquiry yielded some useful information on the history of the event”, the MCIB says, but it "did not clearly identify the root cause of the fire".

It says it did lead to the operators adopting a safety management system to improve processes onboard.

It says that since the incident, the door leading to No.1 engine compartment on the ferry was fitted with a weight and magnetic lock so that it closes automatically when the fire alarm is activated.

Published in MCIB
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Doolin Ferry Company has set sail for the summer season, with their state-of-the-art ferries operating once again from Doolin Pier to the Aran Islands. Passengers can also opt to board a Cliffs of Moher cruise, or the Seafari experience, which was introduced in 2021.

With the popularity of the Aran Islands continuing to increase year on year, the family-run business now offers up to 20 sailings per day between Inis Óirr, Inis Mór and Inis Meáin.

As a top destination in the West of Ireland, the Aran Islands offer visitors the chance to step back in time and experience Irish culture in its truest and most traditional forms.

The Doolin Ferry Co. Seafari Launch The Doolin Ferry Co. Seafari Launch

Doolin Ferry Co. holds the largest and fastest ferry fleet operating on the Wild Atlantic Way. Doolin Ferry Co’s one of a kind ‘Seafari’ experience takes place onboard an exclusive, private 10 seater rib.

The rib is designed to allow you unrivalled, close up views of the entire Clare Coast while sheltering you from the elements with an optional canopy if the need arises.

Doolin Ferry Co’s private charters allow you to dictate the itinerary so no two journeys onboard are ever the same.

Published in Ferry
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Marking what it described as a “new dawn”, an Antrim company has launched the province’s largest sightseeing passenger ferry.

The new vessel Kintra II marks a £1 million investment by Kintra Boat Tours, and the creation of eight jobs.

The vessel is licensed to carry 84 passengers, and was commissioned in August 2020 from Blyth Catamarans.

It joins Kintra I, the company’s first vessel which provides sightseeing and wildlife tours along the Northern Irish coastline.

Experienced mariner Charles Stewart and business partner Dawn Hynes set up Kintra Boat Tours in March 2020, just as a pandemic took hold. After what Stewart describes as a “choppy start”, the company has benefited from the substantial increase in staycations.

“The North coast is one of the most beautiful parts of the world, and it’s been a long-held ambition to enable locals and tourists to view the incredible wildlife and scenery from sea,” Stewart said.

The vessel was launched on Friday in Ballycastle by the North’s Minister for the Economy, Gordon Lyons and Mayor of the Causeway Coast and Glens councillor Richard Holmes.

“Today marks a milestone for the local economy, our tourism offering and for our company,” Dawn Hynes said.

“ The addition of Kintra II will enable us to create new job roles locally, and also to more than double our capacity, which is especially important for the summer season,” she said.

Kintra Boat Tours sail all year round from Ballycastle along the North coast and Rathlin Island.

The company says its vessel skippers are “incredibly knowledgeable about the geography, history and the wildlife” along the coastline and on the L-shaped island with its puffin colony. All trips also have a wildlife guide onboard.

Published in Ferry
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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