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#COASTGUARD - Representaives of Italy's coastguard will give an account of its handling of the Costa Concordia tragedy at an international conference in Dublin next month, The Irish Times reports.

The Italian coastguard has been invited to deliver the keynote address at Search and Rescue 2012, which is being hosted in Ireland for the first time.

It is expected that this address will include a detailed account of the sinking of the cruise liner Costa Concordia last month.

At least 17 people have died and 12 are still missing after the ship ran aground on the western Italian coast. One Irish couple were among the thousands rescued from the stricken vessel.

Meanwhile, attendees at the conference - which is being hosted in the year of Ireland's charing of the EU coastguard network - will also witness demonstrations of the Irish Coast Guard's rescue helicopter fleet at Weston Airport in Leixlip.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, Irish Coast Guard director Chris Reynolds has been charged with preparing the grounds for a permanent secretariat to be run by EU coastguard officers.

Published in Coastguard

#POWER FROM THE SEA - A €9 million Europe-wide wave energy trial programme is one of the key elements of a new Government programme designed to transform Ireland as a maritime nation.

According to The Irish Times, University College Cork's Hydraulics and Maritime Research Centre will run testing of wave energy, tidal energy and offshore wind energy devices across a network of sites in 12 European countries participating in the new marine renewables infrastructure network Marinet.

Irish test sites in the network include the national ocean test facility in Cork and centres operated by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) at Galway Bay and Belmullet.

The UCC centre also forms part of the new Irish Maritime and Energy Resource Cluster (IMERC), launched last Friday by Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

The cluster comprises UCC, the Irish Naval Service, Cork Institute of Technology and the National Maritime College of Ireland with the initial aim of creating 70 new research jobs by 2014 in the areas of wave energy, green shipping and sustainability of ocean resources.

IMERC director Dr Val Cummins said: “The aim of IMERC is to promote Ireland as a world-renowned research and development location that will unlock Ireland’s maritime and energy potential."

The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

Published in Power From the Sea
Northern Ireland's First Minister has highlighted the need for local knowledge in light of the threatened closure of the Clyde coastguard station in Scotland.
As previously reported by Afloat.ie, the control centre at Greenock is set to be scrapped under the UK government's plans to streamline Britain's coastguard network.
Some 31 jobs will be lost in the closure, while rescues on the River Clyde and western Scotland will in future be handled from Northern Ireland's Bangor station on Belfast Lough - which itself was saved from the chop following a review over the summer.
In a latter to MSP for West of Scotland, Stuart McMillan, First Minister Peter Robinson said that his and his government's concerns "centre on the safety of the people using our coasts and seaways, which could be jeopardised by the loss of local knowledge and experience."
McMillan welcomed his support, adding that "despite the consultation period being over, it is not too late for the UK Government listen to the growing number of voices saying that this must be reversed.
“Closing coastguard stations down including Clyde is a short-sighted and dangerous move which puts saving money over saving lives.”

#COASTGUARD - Northern Ireland's First Minister has highlighted the need for local knowledge in light of the threatened closure of the Clyde coastguard station in Scotland.

As previously reported by Afloat.ie, the control centre at Greenock is set to be scrapped under the UK government's plans to streamline Britain's coastguard network. 

Some 31 jobs will be lost in the closure, while rescues on the River Clyde and western Scotland will in future be handled from Northern Ireland's Bangor station on Belfast Lough - which itself was saved from the chop following a review over the summer.

In a letter to MSP for West of Scotland, Stuart McMillan, First Minister Peter Robinson said that his and his government's concerns "centre on the safety of the people using our coasts and seaways, which could be jeopardised by the loss of local knowledge and experience."

McMillan welcomed his support, adding that "despite the consultation period being over, it is not too late for the UK Government listen to the growing number of voices saying that this must be reversed.

“Closing coastguard stations down including Clyde is a short-sighted and dangerous move which puts saving money over saving lives.”

Published in Coastguard
A campaigner on Twitter is encouraging supporters to sign an online petition against the closure of coastguard stations across the UK.
So far almost 7,000 signatures have been added to the petition started by Twitter user @Coastguard_SOS in protest at the UK government's plans to streamline the Maritime and Coastguard Agency's nationwide network of rescue centres from 19 to 11.
As previously reportd on Afloat.ie, campaigners in Scotland have made a desperate plea to save the Clyde station from closure in a public consultation.
Northern Ireland's rescue command centre at Bangor on Belfast Lough is among those saved from the chop following a review of reform proposals this past summer.
But concerns remain that resources will be stretched too thin if fewer stations are responsible for broader areas.
"The revised proposals are also unacceptable not least on the basis that vital local knowledge will continue be lost and therefore lives will continue to be out at risk on our coastlines," the petition warns.

A campaigner on Twitter is encouraging supporters to sign an online petition against the closure of coastguard stations across the UK.

So far almost 7,000 signatures have been added to the petition started by Twitter user @Coastguard_SOS in protest at the UK government's plans to streamline the Maritime and Coastguard Agency's nationwide network of rescue centres from 19 to 11.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, campaigners in Scotland have made a desperate plea to save the Clyde station from closure in a public consultation.

Northern Ireland's rescue command centre at Bangor on Belfast Lough is among those saved from the chop following a review of reform proposals this past summer. 

But concerns remain that resources will be stretched too thin if fewer stations are responsible for broader areas.

"The revised proposals are also unacceptable not least on the basis that vital local knowledge will continue be lost and therefore lives will continue to be out at risk on our coastlines," the petition warns.

Published in Coastguard
Concerns persist over the future for Northern Ireland’s coastguard service staff - despite the British government backing down from plans to close the Bangor search and rescue centre.
As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the Bregenz House station was given a reprieve under revised proposals to streamline the UK's coastguard network.
However the coastguard workers' union told the Belfast Telegraph that assurances must still be given to preserve "the same level of service”.
Ian Graham of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union said: "The numbers they’re quoting in the proposals are not providing this service with enough staff.
"Lives are still at risk with these proposals, there isn’t one UK coastguard I have spoken to that doesn’t disagree with that. We need to keep fighting to safeguard the service. This was a small victory.”
The Belfast Telegraph has more on the story HERE.

Concerns persist over the future for Northern Ireland’s coastguard service staff - despite the British government backing down from plans to close the Bangor search and rescue centre.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the Bregenz House station was given a reprieve under revised proposals to streamline the UK's coastguard network.

However the coastguard workers' union told the Belfast Telegraph that assurances must still be given to preserve "the same level of service”.

Ian Graham of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union said: "The numbers they’re quoting in the proposals are not providing this service with enough staff. 

"Lives are still at risk with these proposals, there isn’t one UK coastguard I have spoken to that doesn’t disagree with that. We need to keep fighting to safeguard the service. This was a small victory.”

The Belfast Telegraph has more on the story HERE.

Published in Coastguard
The decision to keep open Northern Ireland's only dedicated search and rescue base is a victory for people power, says the Belfast Telegraph.
As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the station at Bangor was saved from closure following a review of plans to streamline the UK's coastguard network.
In an editorial on Friday, the paper said: "Northern Ireland really is a place apart geographically and no-one was convinced that the waters around our coastline from Lough Foyle to Strangford and the inland waterways of Lough Neagh and Lough Erne could be safely monitored by what amounted to remote control if Belfast Coastguard was closed."
The preservation of the service at Bangor is also "a victory for common sense".
The paper added: "From now on every person plucked from the sea or the loughs will utter a heartfelt thanks to those who fought to keep the service locally-based and they will also praise Transport Minister Phillip Hammond for sparing it from closure."

The decision to keep open Northern Ireland's only dedicated search and rescue base is a victory for people power, says the Belfast Telegraph.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the station at Bangor was saved from closure following a review of plans to streamline the UK's coastguard network.

In an editorial on Friday, the paper said: "Northern Ireland really is a place apart geographically and no-one was convinced that the waters around our coastline from Lough Foyle to Strangford and the inland waterways of Lough Neagh and Lough Erne could be safely monitored by what amounted to remote control if Belfast Coastguard was closed."

The preservation of the service at Bangor is also "a victory for common sense".

The paper added: "From now on every person plucked from the sea or the loughs will utter a heartfelt thanks to those who fought to keep the service locally-based and they will also praise Transport Minister Phillip Hammond for sparing it from closure."

Published in Coastguard

Irish Coast Guard

The Irish Coast Guard is Ireland's 4th 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.

Introduction

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 around 2000 times (40 times to assist mountain rescues and 200 times to carry out aeromedical HEMS missions on behalf of the HSE), Coast Guard volunteer units will respond 1000 times and RNLI and community lifeboats will be tasked by our Coordination Centres about 950 times
  • evacuate medical patients off our Islands to hospital on 100 occasions
  • assist other nations' Coast Guards about 200 times
  • make around 6,000 maritime safety broadcasts to shipping, fishing and leisure craft users
  • carry out a safety on the water campaign that targets primary schools and leisure craft users, including at sea and beach patrols
  • investigate approximately 50 maritime pollution reports

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

List of Coast Guard Units in Ireland

  • 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

The roles of the Irish Coast Guard

The main roles of the Irish Coast Guard are 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.

Each year the Irish Coast Guard co-ordinates the response to thousands of incidents at sea and on the cliffs and beaches of Ireland. It does this through its Marine Rescue Centres which are currently based in:

  • Dublin
  • Malin Head (Co Donegal)
  • Valentia Island (Co Kerry).

Each centre is responsible for search and rescue operations.

The Dublin National Maritime Operations Centre (NMOC) provides marine search and rescue response services and co-ordinates the response to marine casualty incidents within the Irish Pollution Responsibility Zone/EEZ.

The Marine Rescue Sub Centre (MRSC) Valentia and MRSC Malin Head are 24/7 centres co-ordinating search and rescue response in their areas of responsibility.

The Marine Rescue Sub Centre (MRSC) Valentia is the contact point for routine operational matters in the area between Ballycotton and Clifden.

MRSC Malin Head is the contact point for routine operational matters in the area between Clifden and Lough Foyle.

MRCC Dublin is the contact point for routine operational matters in the area between Carlingford Lough and Ballycotton.

Each MRCC/MRSC broadcasts maritime safety information on VHF and, in some cases, MF radio in accordance with published schedules.

Maritime safety information that is broadcast by the three Marine Rescue Sub-centres includes:

  • navigational warnings as issued by the UK Hydrographic Office
  • gale warnings, shipping forecasts, local inshore forecasts, strong wind warnings and small craft warnings as issued by the Irish Meteorological Office.

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.

The Coast Guard can contract specialised aerial surveillance or dispersant spraying aircraft at short notice internationally.

Helicopter tasks include:

  • the location of marine and aviation incident survivors by homing onto aviation and marine radio distress transmissions, by guidance from other agencies, and by visual, electronic and electro-optical search
  • the evacuation of survivors from the sea, and medical evacuees from all manner of vessels including high-sided passenger and cargo vessels and from the islands
  • the evacuation of personnel from ships facing potential disaster
  • search and or rescue in mountainous areas, caves, rivers, lakes and waterways
  • the transport of offshore fire-fighters (MFRTs) or ambulance teams (MARTs) and their equipment following a request for assistance
  • the provision of safety cover for other search and rescue units including other Marine Emergency Service helicopters
  • pollution, casualty and salvage inspections and surveillance and the transport of associated personnel and equipment
  • inter-agency training in all relevant aspects of the primary role
  • onshore emergency medical service, including evacuation and air ambulance tasks
  • relief of the islands and of areas suffering from flooding or deep snow

The secondary roles of the helicopter are:

  • the exercise of the primary search, rescue and evacuation roles in adjacent search and rescue regions
  • assistance to onshore emergency services, such as in the evacuation of high-rise buildings
  • public safety awareness displays and demonstrations
  • providing helicopter expertise for seminars and training courses

The Irish Coast Guard provides aeronautical assets for search and rescue in the mountains of Ireland. Requests for Irish Coast Guard assets are made to the Marine Rescue Centres.

Requests are accepted from An Garda Síochána and nominated persons in Mountain Rescue Teams.

Information courtesy of Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (July 2019)

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