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The Irish Ferries Isle of Inishmore cross channel ferry spotted a 20-foot Kinsale-based fishing boat capsized off the coast of Wales this afternoon.

The ferry, under the command of well-known Irish yachtsman and tall ship skipper Captain Gerry Burns, was returning from Pembroke Dock to Rosslare when the ship's lookout spotted the upturned black and blue hull of the Orkney Longliner drifting some 150 miles from her home port.

At the time of the discovery at 4 30 pm this afternoon, Capt Burns told Afloat: 'We didn’t know if there was anyone on board when we found her'.

The hull was conspicuous at sea in the good weather due to a large red mooring buoy still attached to its bow. 

Milford Haven RNLI lifeboat and the Irish Ferries Isle of Inishmore rescue boat investigate the upturned hullMilford Haven RNLI lifeboat and the Irish Ferries Isle of Inishmore rescue boat investigate the upturned hull

The ferry altered course and went to investigate. News of the discovery was relayed to the Coastguard and Captain Burns dispatched one of the ships rescue boats. The ferry stood by for an hour until the Milford Haven RNLI lifeboat arrived on scene. The lifeboat was able to right the fishing boat.

It is understood the boat's name is 'Braveheart' and that she broke her moorings in the West Cork harbour during Storm Ellen on August 21st. The owners of the boat have been contacted.

Published in Kinsale
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A Belfast Lough Maritime Consortium led by Artemis Technologies has won a £33 million UK Government innovation grant to develop zero emissions ferries in the city, that will revolutionise the future of maritime transport. With further investment from consortium partners, the total project investment will reach close to £60m over the next four years, creating an initial 125 research and development jobs, and leading to more than 1,000 in the region over the next 10 years.

The 13 partner syndicate - which is a mix of established and young companies, including Belfast Harbour and Bombardier, academia and local public bodies - is the only Northern Irish or maritime recipient of the UK Research and Innovation flagship Strength in Places Fund.

A spin-off from the America’s Cup sailing team, Artemis Racing, Artemis Technologies is led by double Olympic gold medallist Iain Percy OBE.

Iain said: “When we launched Artemis Technologies, we decided to base ourselves in Belfast because of the incredible aerospace and composite engineering talent available.

efoiler propulsion systemefoiler propulsion system

“Belfast’s local expertise coupled with the city’s rich shipbuilding heritage, and our own America’s Cup yacht design experience, will ensure Belfast is the global lead in zero emissions maritime technology.

“For years, we’ve been designing low energy, high-performance solutions for some of the fastest yachts on the planet, and we will now utilise that knowledge, and along with our partners, apply it to build the world's most environmentally friendly high-speed ferries, capable of carrying up to 350 passengers.”

Iain added: “Our concept for an electric hydrofoil propulsion system is totally unique and will enable vessels of the future to operate with up to 90% less energy, and produce zero emissions during operation.

“As cities across the world seek ways to reduce pollution and ease traffic congestion, the transformative vessels to be produced right here in Belfast, will have a global role to play in delivering the connected maritime transport system of the future.

“This investment from the UKRI Strength in Places Fund is a major endorsement of what we are trying to achieve, which we strongly believe will see Northern Ireland at the centre of the revolution in water transport.”

Welcoming the announcement, First Minister Arlene Foster said: “We are all proud of Belfast’s maritime and shipbuilding heritage. However, it is even more exciting to look towards a future which can see Northern Ireland once again leading the way with world-class manufacturing and cutting-edge technology.

“I pay tribute to all those involved in the project which demonstrates so clearly the benefits of collaboration between business, academia and government at all levels. This investment can support economic growth locally, but its impact could be felt globally through solutions to more sustainable transport.”

The Belfast consortium brings together a range of established and young firms, academia and public bodies, including: Belfast Harbour, Bombardier Belfast, Northern Ireland Advanced Composites Engineering (NIACE), Creative Composites, Energia, Catalyst, Invest Northern Ireland, Ulster University, Belfast Met, Queen’s University, Belfast, Ards and North Down Borough Council, and Belfast City Council.

Joe O’Neill, Chief Executive, Belfast Harbour, said: “As we continue to develop Belfast Harbour as a key economic hub and centre for innovation, we are pleased to partner with Artemis Technologies in this cutting-edge maritime design project which keeps our city firmly on the shipbuilding map. Ambitious collaborative partnerships such as this are key enablers to help unlock groundbreaking technical innovations and this project fully aligns to Belfast Harbour’s vision to become one of the world’s greenest and best regional ports.

“Belfast Harbour is already home to a diverse range of businesses and this collaboration will only see that expand while also creating new pathways to employment and economic growth opportunities within Belfast and beyond.”

Suzanne Wylie, Chief Executive, Belfast City Council added: “This investment will help our economy recover more quickly, creating jobs and economic prosperity for the city - both key objectives of the Belfast Agenda.

“We are delighted to be working in partnership with such talented, forward thinking colleagues to build the first zero emission ferries here. Belfast has a long history of innovation and it’s hugely exciting to know that once again, we’re on the cusp of a significant engineering breakthrough – one which will position us as pioneers in advanced manufacturing, resilience and transitioning to a low carbon economy.”

Michael J Ryan CBE, Chief Operating Officer, Aerostructures, Bombardier Aviation commented: “As the largest manufacturer in Northern Ireland, Bombardier Belfast is a centre of excellence for the design, manufacture and aftermarket support of complex metallic and advanced composite aerostructures and therefore can provide a depth of experience, capability and capacity in support of Artemis Technologies.

“Bombardier Belfast is keen to expand into markets that exploit our capabilities/advanced technology and where there are synergies with novel technologies. The Artemis Technologies project, in our view, represents a credible technology path that could provide a technological ‘step-change’ to the maritime sector and passenger transportation.”

UK Research and Innovation Chief Executive, Professor Sir Mark Walport, said:  "UK Research and Innovation funding through the Strength in Places Fund will bring researchers, industry and local leadership together in outstanding collaborative programmes that will catalyse regional excellence and economic growth across the UK."

Research England’s Executive Chair, David Sweeney, who leads the Strength in Places Fund, said: “UK Research and Innovation’s flagship Strength in Places Fund is distinctive in specifically targeting investment to foster the local research and innovation ecosystems that can support sustained growth.

Ian PercyIain Percy

“All of these projects have the potential to deliver research and innovation that will transform activity within their target industries, in a way that is deeply rooted in local strengths and well linked to wider local economic plans.

“And, with a second wave of Strength in Places funding already in the pipeline, we look forward to broadening the reach of that impact to further projects in other areas of the country in future.”

Published in Ports & Shipping
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Ferry shipping company Stena Line continues to reduce CO2 emissions and is now ten years ahead of the international shipping targets for reducing emissions. In the newly published sustainability overview “A Sustainable Journey” Stena Line reports a reduction of both total CO2 emissions and per transported ton onboard the ferries. New, larger and more energy efficient vessels, AI assisted captains and an increased punctuality are some important measures.

Despite a tough situation for the ferry industry due to COVID-19 ferry shipping company Stena Line continues its sustainable journey. In the newly published sustainability overview Stena Line presents initiatives, improvements and challenges within the sustainability area as well as give account on the companies ambitious sustainability targets.

Stena Elektra – the aim is to launch a fully battery powered vessel before 2030Stena Elektra – the aim is to launch a fully battery powered vessel before 2030

During 2019 Stena Line to reduce CO2 emissions and is now ten years ahead of the international shipping targets for reducing emissions. The company reduced the total CO2 emissions with 1,7 %, corresponding to 24 000 tonnes of CO2 in total.

Even more important is that Stena Line continued to improve the efficiency and reduced the emissions per transported ton freight and passenger vehicles onboard the vessels with 3,6% CO2. This means that Stena Line, ten years ahead, already meets the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) targets for 2030 of a 40 % reductions in CO2 emissions efficiency from 2008-2030.

“We aim to be the leader in sustainable shipping and we have high ambitions. During the last ten years we have improved the efficiency with more than 320 energy efficiency actions onboard and onshore, both technical and operational improvements and investments. The introduction of AI assisted vessels and the delivery of our first new larger and energy efficient vessels that went into operations on the Irish Sea during the spring, are some highlights from last year”, says Erik Lewenhaupt, Head of Sustainability at Stena Line.

Ambition is zero emissions by 2050

The largest challenge for the shipping industry as a whole and for Stena Line is to reach zero emissions by 2050, in line with international targets.

“We are currently working in parallel with reducing fuel consumption, and emissions to sea and air and at the same time exploring and evaluating the fuels for the future. We are currently involved in several projects with alternative fuels and propulsion, including the world’s first methanol powered vessel and a battery project with the aim of launching a fully battery powered vessel before 2030”, says Erik Lewenhaupt, Head of Sustainability at Stena Line.

Highlights in “A Sustainable Journey 2019/2020”:

  • Reduced our total CO2 emissions with -1.7% as well as -3.6% ton/km, measured by unit transported on our vessels.
  • Reduced almost all single use plastic onboard and substantially improved share of recycled material in our offices, ports and terminals.
  • Reduced the use of harmful chemicals and detergents. The newly introduced Stena Estrid and Stena Edda are best in class with 80 % Eco-label chemicals.
  • Increased the number of female leaders in the company. In total 20 % of managers are females.
Published in Ferry
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The Government has approved an emergency incentive to three ferry companies to keep five strategic maritime corridors between Ireland, Britain and Europe open during the COVID-19 pandemic writes  Lorna Siggins 

Minister for Transport Shane Ross says the government has approved an “emergency provision” of a maximum of 15 million euro towards the costs of maintaining passenger ferry services on the corridors.

The five routes - Dublin/Cherbourg and Rosslare/Fishguard, Pembroke, Cherbourg and Bilbao - have been designated as public service obligation (PSO), he said.

He said the financial measures are in compliance with the European Commission’s requirements under the emergency PSO arrangements, and the emergency procurement arrangements published in response to COVID-19.

The emergency measure will last up for a period of up to three months and apply to three companies, Irish Ferries, Stena Line and Brittany Ferries, serving these routes.

Stena Line confirmed earlier today that it is to “furlough” 600 staff and to make 150 redundant, as an “unavoidable response” to the COVID-19 crisis.

Mr Ross said the support package will be restricted to the five designated routes and will be targeted at compensating the gap between specified costs and revenues generated on the services - the details of which will be established in contracts with the ferry companies.

He said transport companies will continue to pay shipping companies for the services on these routes as usual.

“Measures to control the coronavirus pandemic have now practically stopped passenger traffic on combined passenger/roll-on roll-off ferries on the southern and Continental routes to and from Ireland,” Mr Ross said, explaining that the revenue was “necessary for the operations’ economic viability”.

Some 84% of Ireland’ s total trade volume is transported by sea, representing 62% of the value of all Irish trade. Some 50 per cent of the trade is on combined passenger/RORO services.

“The five routes in question are of strategic importance to Ireland because they ensure the robustness and resilience of Ireland’s lifeline supply chain which is critically important at this time for the movement of goods, including food and medical supplies, into and out of Ireland,” Mr Ross said.

He said that the routes also provide alternatives and “maintain contingency options” to the main route in and out of Dublin port during COVID-19.

He noted it was “critically important” the routes were working when economic activity “resumes in the coming months, and we prepare for Brexit”.

Published in Ferry
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The next generation of ferry travel proudly sailed into Belfast Harbour on Wednesday, with Stena Edda undertaking important final trials before it welcomes passengers on the Belfast Lough to Liverpool route in the coming weeks.

As Afloat reported earlier, the Stena Edda arrived at dawn after an epic four-week voyage and over six years’ in planning and construction, including design development in Sweden.

As part of this momentous occasion on its journey, the new advanced vessel took part in successful berthing trials at Belfast Harbour’s VT2 Terminal. A new access ramp has been specially built to accommodate the multi-million-pound ferry in Belfast.

With 40% more deck capacity, 40% more cabins and 30% more fuel-efficient than current vessels on the route, it will accommodate up to 1,000 passengers, 120 cars in its dedicated garage deck and 3,100 lane metres of freight.

It is more spacious inside with a Sky Bar and Scandinavian design providing new levels of comfort for both freight and travel guests. Despite the 215 metres length of the ferry, the new port infrastructure will deliver easier and faster loading and unloading for all passengers.

Stena Edda is part of a nine-figure investment by Stena Line in three new vessels and port upgrades, redefining ferry travel in the Irish Sea. Stena Edda is the first of two new ferries that will run on the popular Belfast to Liverpool route.

Published in Ferry
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The Port of Cork have been informed by Brittany Ferries that the weekly Ro-Pax ferry service from Cork to Santander which includes a midweek Roscoff sailing is to cease operating. In a statement, the Port said: 'This surprising decision by Brittany Ferries is very disappointing, however, we will continue to pursue other options for linking Cork and Northern Spain".

As Afloat reported yesterday, Brittany Ferries is believed to be looking at moving the operation to Rosslare Harbour.

A Port spokesman added: "We remain supportive of Brittany Ferries who have operated out of Cork for over 40 years and we will continue to facilitate Brittany Ferries on their weekly service from Cork to Roscoff re-commencing in March 2020"

Published in Ferry
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The traditional Lough Erne Cot is a vessel unique to Upper and Lower Lough Erne and used there for possibly 2000 years. It was popular for transporting goods, people and cattle around the islands in the lakes in County Fermanagh and some versions are still used today for carrying cattle.

The cot was uniquely suitable for this purpose, being flat bottomed, wide in the middle and narrow in its turned-up ends. Some were surprisingly long at 15 to 18 metres. But the latest design of the ‘cot’ commissioned by the RSPB, is a far cry from the original. It’s a 15m custom-made 14-ton vessel built by Welsh marine engineers and workboat builders Mainstay Marine Solutions.

As Afloat previously reported, not only will it transport livestock but also machinery, equipment and people and its deck space can be altered depending on the cargo. It can also be dismantled into sections for ease of road transportation.

The grazing of cattle on the islands helps ground-nesting birds by providing cover. The livestock creates a suitable structure of grass and vegetation to form an ideal habitat for breeding wading birds including curlews, lapwings, redshanks and snipe to nest and raise young.

The boat has been named the ‘Joe Magee’ after a former RSPB Fermanagh warden who had noticed the alarming decline in wading birds during his time there. The new cot was acquired through the Co-operation Across Borders for Biodiversity (CABB) project, which receives financial support from the EU’s INTERREG VA Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB). CABB is improving the habitat for breeding wading birds at several sites in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and blanket bog habitat in NI, Scotland and the Republic of Ireland.

RSPB NI has operated a cot to transport livestock between islands on Lower Lough Erne since 1991. The original was designed by Joe Magee but needed to be replaced due to wear and tear.

RSPB NI area manager Brad Robson explained: “The cot is used throughout the year. We move about 150 cattle and 60 sheep back and forth to our managed islands, as well as livestock to other privately owned islands. In its first voyages, the new vessel will be used to bring livestock off for the winter”.

Joe Magee added: “We originally used a wooden cot, which a farmer let us use, and then we built our own.  “Although at first it had no engine on it, and we had to tow it using another boat. So eventually we got an engine and that made life easier. “I knew that across the island of

Ireland curlew numbers were dropping, so it’s important that work is still being done to look after them.”

Mr Robson said the RSPB's work is essential and by using cattle to manage the grassland they can give curlews "the best possible opportunity that they can rear young successfully”.

Underlining the importance of this part of the project, Gina McIntyre - CEO of the SEUPB - said: “The curlew is one of a number of endangered priority species identified in the environmental protection measures within the EU INTERREG Programme. This new cot is a fantastic example of the tangible impact that EU INTERREG funding is having in safeguarding the natural environment and protecting endangered species, on a cross-border basis. Due to this intervention by the CABB project, curlews will have a much better future. I also want to commend Joe for his commitment to conservation.”

You can read more here

Published in Ferry
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A new Cork Harbour ferry has been launched to Spike Island to coincide with the opening of a major new exhibition there, and it's hoped these initiatives will lead to a rise in tourist visitor numbers writes Bob Bateman.

The ferry, named after the island, can accommodate 126 passengers and will be operated by Doyle Shipping.

As Afloat previously reported, the number of visitors to Spike Island has risen to 25% so far in 2019, with the operation of a new, larger-capacity ferry just one of a number of developments at the Cork Harbour destination. 

Ferry Spike IslandThe Ferry crossing Cork Harbour Photo: Bob Bateman

The new ferry will run alongside the existing ferry, ‘Bryan J’, which carries 80 passengers, and thus increase the throughput of tourists to the 104-acre island.

Doyle Shipping has carried passengers to the island for the past 60 years. They have included army and navy officers, sitting Taoiseach, and famous criminals like Martin Cahill.

The Bryan J Ferry to Spike IslandThe busy Bryan J Ferry also operates to Spike Island Photo: Bob Bateman

Ferry at CobhEmbarkation at Cobh Photo: Bob Bateman

Published in Island News
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In the next phase of Gothenburg’s drive to connect its residents with a seamless citywide low emission commuting network, a Volvo Penta-powered electric ferry service is being introduced into the ElectriCity transport ecosystem.

Building on the growing success of Gothenburg’s ElectriCity project, an all-electric ferry service is to be added to the City’s existing electric bus service. The electric marine propulsion system is being provided by Volvo Penta, who joins the initiative following the success of sister company’s Volvo Buses – a leading partner in the ElectriCity project – having supplied the buses to the Route 55 electric bus route in Central Gothenburg and the electric articulated buses on Route 16. Aimed to be the model of future clean urban development, the new electric-powered ferry will link both sides of the Göta River.

Gothenburg’s ElectriCity partnership is a collaboration between industry, academia and local government. It involves developing, testing, demonstrating and evaluating solutions that will contribute to the establishment of new, sustainable, attractive transportation systems and open up new opportunities for future travel, transportation of goods and urban planning. Using electric power in public transport systems helps to resolve problems such as noise and poor air quality, as well as lowering energy use and the impact of transport on the climate.

Powering up electric waterways

While Gothenburg’s waterways already feature ferries powered by electricity, in the form of diesel-electric engines, these operate on short routes across the river. ElectriCity’s Volvo Penta-powered electric vessel, meanwhile, will be the first fully-electric ferry in the city able to complete longer, multi-stop routes along the river, and ultimately incorporate quick charging capabilities.

The opening of the route is part of a longer-term plan to introduce more clean energy ferry solutions and the development of a marine demo arena. Cities around the world are often built around waterways and connecting on-road with on-water sustainable transport in a unified traffic system is a final objective.

The ferry – Älvsnabben 4 – will be converted into the all-electric drive at the hands of Volvo Penta, in collaboration with Västtrafik’s operator, Styrsöbolaget, part of Transdev. The work involves removing diesel engine-powered marine drivelines and replacing them with a battery-electric propulsion system of equal power to the outgoing diesel powerplant, but one that boasts considerably more maximum torque. Initially, the ferry will be charged overnight, supported by an onboard genset running on HVO.

The current plan is for the refit to get underway early next year, with the target of the ferry entering commercial service on the Göta river by the end of 2020.

“We fully support ElectriCity’s ambition to bring Gothenburg to life by connecting people across the city in a sustainable way,” explains Björn Ingemanson, President of Volvo Penta. “Volvo Penta has an advantage when it comes to electromobility. As part of the Volvo Group, we have access to the technology and expertise from many years of development with electric buses in the city of Gothenburg, where aspects like safety and efficiency have been at the forefront. Now, we aim to adapt this leading technology for use in a marine environment, bringing the benefits of proven technology into a new context.”

Clean. Efficient. Connected. City

Gothenburg is one of the world’s most progressive cities when it comes to addressing climate and environmental issues. The city currently has the highest ranking in the 2019 Global Destination Sustainability index. Ongoing initiatives such as the Volvo Penta-powered electric ferry service will, over time, form an integrated part of Gothenburg’s long-term clean energy transport infrastructure.

“Västtrafik is aiming to reduce CO2 emissions by 90 percent before 2035. To reach this goal large-scale electrification of all our city services is crucial. This ElectriCity initiative is an important step in the right direction, and we are looking forward to adding the Volvo Penta fully electric ferry to our transport system”, says Camilla Holtet, director of development at Västtrafik.

Published in Ferry
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Is a new ferry route coming to Dun Laoghaire Harbour? After an absence of three years or more there is more than the usual level of a rumour circulating at the south Dublin Port that a regular passenger service could be coming back after the recent break in what – until 2015 – was a continuous 200–year service from Dun Laoghaire.

Insiders say that they are 'very confident' a ferry service can be reintroduced but for now, the new harbour owners, Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council, are tight-lipped in a statement to Afloat.ie about any plans concerning a ferry or its proposed routing.

As regular Afloat.ie readers will know, Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company was dissolved on the 3rd October 2018 and transferred to Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council under the Harbour Act, 2015.

An Afloat.ie source told Afloat.ie last week a new ferry deal is 'in discussion' but, unfortunately, no other details are forthcoming.

A shipping industry told Afloat.ie the only viable ferry berth now available in the harbour would be Berth Number Four that has a linkspan to accommodate small ships. This is the berth adjacent to St. Michael's Wharf, at the old ferry terminal, next door to the Royal St. George Yacht Club.

The 200-year-old Harbour and its tenants are now in a period of transition and have to address a number of issues not least the state of repair of the harbour and also the financial standing of the Company. Final accounts must be presented to the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government and laid before the Oireachtas. This must be completed within six months from the 3rd October 2018.

The Council met last week with harbour tenants and explained to them that it is applying for European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). The hope is that the Council, the second biggest in the country, can bring some financial muscle to bear to restore the Victorian structure that suffered so badly in storms last March.

In a statement, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council told Afloat.ie that 'All proposed projects, including any potential ferry service, are being reviewed against this background'.

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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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