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Coast Guard Rescue News from Ireland
Coastguard Oil Spill Equipment Tested on Belfast Lough
#marinepollution – New high-tech equipment that can be deployed anywhere in the UK to clean up oil spills is today being put to the test in Belfast Harbour. The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) has recently purchased two new pieces…
HSE Defends Coastguard Medevac For Islands Tourist With Broken Ankle
#Coastguard - The HSE has been criticised for deploying two Irish Coast Guard helicopters to the Aran Islands for injured woman who could have been transported to hospital by a commercial flight. The Irish Times reports that the HSE West…
Irish Coast Guard Advice to Public Over June Bank Holiday Weekend
#coastguard – The Irish Coast Guard has today issued advice to members of the public in advance of the June Bank Holiday in relation to Water Safety, Cliff Walking and other Water sports and Coastal Activities. Throughout the summer (as…
Top Award For Sligo Coastguard Chopper Crew
#Coastguard - Four members of Sligo's Irish Coast Guard helicopter crew are in Canada this week to receive a prestigious award for their efforts in the rescue of a climber from the Bluestack Mountains. As The Irish Times reports, the…
Search Continues for Man After Rowing Boat Capsizes on Lough Erne
#coastguard – A search is ongoing for a man missing in Lough Erne last night after a boat with six people onboard overturned. Belfast Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre received a 999 call at 6.15pm from a member of the public,…
Man Rescued from Boat Ablaze off Welsh Coast
#fireonboard – A man has been rescued off the West Wales coast today following a major fire on his boat. The 26ft pleasure boat is still ablaze 600 metres off Aberystwyth and Coastguards are asking all vessels in the area…
Young Boy Critical After Fall Into Sea Off Blackhead Lighthouse
#Coastguard - The Irish Times reports that a nine-year-old boy is in critical condition after falling into the sea near Blackhead lighthouse in Co Clare on Sunday 4 May. The Irish Coast Guard's Shannon-based rescue helicopter airlifted the unconscious boy…
Irish Coast Guard Christens 'Queen Of The Sky' At Shannon
#Coastguard - As the Facebook post above shows, the Irish Coast Guard has officially named the Shannon-based helicopter with the call sign Rescue 115 as Banríon na Spéire, or Queen of the Sky. The search and rescue chopper, which was…
Men Rescued From Capsized Dinghy in Firth of Clyde
#rescue – Two men have been rescued after their small dinghy overturned in the Firth of Clyde. They clung onto the hull before being swept away from the dinghy by the choppy waves. Belfast Coastguard asked a Royal Navy minesweeper on…
Coast Guard Rescues Elderly Man Stuck in Soft Sand at Morecombe
#rescue – An elderly man with a walking aid was rescued from soft sand just 50 metres off the prom in Morecombe today after he sank up to his knees. At just before 11.30 this morning Liverpool Maritime Rescue Coordination…
Killybegs Coast Guard Station Opens with State-of-the-Art Facilities
#coastguard – Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport Leo Varadkar has opened the newly-built Coast Guard Station in Killybegs which provides the voluntary crew with top-class accommodation and training facilities. It's the third new Coast Guard building opened by Minister…
Canadian Canoes Swamped Crossing Strangford Lough
#canoe – An overnight trip to Salt Island ended prematurely when five Canadian canoes were swamped by waves as they crossed Strangford Lough in Northern Ireland.At just after 12 noon a member of the public called 999 to report that…
Coastguard Airlifts Injured Fisherman From Norwegian Trawler
#Coastguard - TheJournal.ie reports that the Irish Coast Guard was involved in the rescue of an injured fisherman from a Norwegian trawler hundreds of miles off the west coast in the early hours Monday (24 February). Coastguard helicopter Rescue 115…
Coast Guard Appeal to Exercise Caution During 'Red Alert' Severe Weather
#storm – Members of the public have been urged to exercise extreme caution on exposed coastal areas this afternoon as Met Éireann issues an red alert. Met Éireann has a red weather alert in force. Coastal areas will experience winds…
Joint Garda Síochána & Coast Guard Appeal for Caution During weekend Stormy Weather
#orangealert – Members of the public have been urged to heed the advice of An Garda Síochána and the Coast Guard as Met Éireann issues an orange alert for Gale warning and a yellow alert for risk of localised flooding.…
Coastguard Working Closer With HSE Says Chief
#Coastguard - The Irish Coast Guard enjoyed an eight-fold increase its work with the HSE last year, according to the service's chief. Chris Reynolds was speaking before a select sub-committee hearing at the Oireachtas last week, at which he explained…

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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