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Displaying items by tag: Coastguard

Crosshaven Coastguard has installed a new drive-up pontoon for its RIB rescue boat in Cork Harbour

The floating pontoon, that has been installed at the Royal Cork Yacht Club marina gives the local Coastguard unit a much safer and quicker response time.

The Coastguard says on social media that the pontoon will save launch time and the dangers of crossing a busy main road because 'the boat is already on the water but not in the water!" 

Crosshaven Coastguard's new new drive-up pontoon berth for its rescue RIBCrosshaven Coastguard's new new drive-up pontoon berth for its rescue RIB Photo: Bob Bateman

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Galway based Minister with special responsibility for the Irish Coast Guard, Hildegarde Naughton TD, today visited Cleggan Coast Guard Unit to meet with the local volunteer team and hear first-hand about their life saving work.

Cleggan is a shore-based Coast Guard Unit with 17 volunteers and has dual functions with shore search and drone roles. The team at Cleggan was the first in the country to be trained and equipped with drone capabilities. Work continues within the team to keep on top of advancing drone technologies. The Cleggan Unit has also led the way for Units nationwide to respond to a wide range of challenging and life-threatening incidents, including searches for missing persons with the use of drones.

Minister Naughton’s visit coincides with the celebration of the 200th anniversary of the Irish Coast Guard this year. The Irish Coast Guard, which can trace its roots back to 1822, includes 44 Coast Guard units across Ireland that provide a national maritime search and rescue service and a maritime casualty and pollution response service. Volunteers and full-time staff respond to almost 3,000 callouts and save on average, 400 lives a year.

Minister Naughton commented on this important milestone: “I had the pleasure of presenting the 30-year Long Service Medal to Michael Murray, the Officer in Charge at Cleggan, in September at the celebration event of the 200th anniversary of the Coast Guard. Michael’s exemplary service is an example of the dedication and commitment of all in our Coast Guard to protect people along our coastline and inland waters.

“The Irish Coast Guard is one of the State’s Principal Emergency Services, and their work is both challenging and varied. I would like to acknowledge the commitment of staff and volunteers here in Galway, and nationwide for providing this crucial service and particularly for maintaining service delivery throughout the Covid pandemic. I continue to hear stories of volunteers leaving their families at home in the dead of night, and even on Christmas Day, to assist those in difficulty, a fact that demonstrates the personal sacrifice that is made by our volunteers 365 days of the year. Without our volunteers, we simply would not have this lifesaving service. I would also like to thank their families and the wider community, without whose support this service could not be provided."

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Two junior ministers have turned a sod on the construction site of a new Coast Guard station at Bunmahon, Co Waterford.

A sum of 5.3 million euro is being invested in the new station, according to Minister of State with responsibility for the Irish Coast Guard Hildegarde Naughton.

She was joined by Minister of State with responsibility for the Office of Public Works (OPW), Patrick O’Donovan.

It will take about a year to complete.

The new station will provide better facilities for the 18 volunteers who operate from the Bunmahon unit, including vehicle storage, shower and changing facilities, an operations/training room, kitchen and office space.The new station will provide better facilities for the 18 volunteers who operate from the Bunmahon unit, including vehicle storage, shower and changing facilities, an operations/training room, kitchen and office space

Ms Naughton paid tribute to the commitment and dedication of almost 1,000 volunteers with the Coast Guard, which she described second to none.

She also paid tribute to the members of the Bunmahon unit and said it was a key resource for the Irish Coast Guard in the Waterford area.

“The unit has shoreline and cliff rescue capabilities and works closely with its flank units at Ardmore and Tramore,” she said.

Minister Naughton said the Bunmahon unit and said it was a key resource for the Irish Coast Guard in the Waterford areaMinister Naughton said the Bunmahon unit and said it was a key resource for the Irish Coast Guard in the Waterford area

“The Waterford team here has responded to many search and cliff rescue emergencies down through the years, both maritime and inland, in rural communities and in the larger townlands of Tramore and Dungarvan,”she said, noting the unit had also assisted the Garda Siochana, National Ambulance Service and Fire Service.

“The OPW is delighted to assist in the design and construction of this new purpose-built premises in Bunmahon for the Irish Coast Guard Service,” Mr O’Donovan said.

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The Irish Coast Guard Maritime Rescue Sub Centre (MRSC) at Malin Head has reported the safe rescue of the trapped man from the cave at Downpatrick Head Co Mayo.

The man has been transferred to Sligo University Hospital by the Coast Guard Helicopter Rescue 118 from Sligo and is said to be well and in good spirits.

As Afloat reported earlier, a multi-agency rescue operation had been awaiting low tide this afternoon (Sunday 18 September) to retrieve the man trapped in a sea cave at Downpatrick Head since the previous evening.

Rescuers work to retrieve a man trapped in a cave at Downpatrick in County MayoRescuers work to retrieve a man trapped in a cave at Downpatrick in County Mayo

According to The Irish Times, the man in his 40s had been exploring the cave with a woman on Saturday (17 September) when they became trapped by the rising tide and were swept off a ledge by a wave surge.

The Irish Cave Rescue Organisation rescued the individual, supported by the Coast Guard Units from Killala/Ballyglass/Killybegs/Achill, the Ballyglass RNLI Lifeboat, National Ambulance Service, Civil Defence, County Fire Service and An Gardai Siochana, including the Gardai Water Unit. With a particular mention of the support of the local community at Downpatrick and North Mayo more generally.

The individual has been transferred to Sligo University Hospital by the Coast Guard Helicopter Rescue 118 from Sligo and is said to be well and in good spirits.The individual has been transferred to Sligo University Hospital by the Coast Guard Helicopter Rescue 118 from Sligo and is said to be well and in good spirits

In a statement, the Coast Guard said tonight it would like to take this opportunity to recognise the professionalism and dedication of those involved in the successful operation and in particular, the team from the Irish Cave Rescue Organisation.

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The Irish Coast Guard, which can trace its roots to 1822, is celebrating 200 years of lifesaving service. The milestone was marked at an event today attended by Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan TD and Minister of State with specific responsibility for the Irish Coast Guard, Hildegarde Naughton TD, at Greenore Coast Guard Station, County Louth. A special Commemorative Proof of Service Wreck Token will be awarded to 950 volunteers nationwide in recognition of their valued service.

Staff and volunteers from 44 Coast Guard units across Ireland provide a national maritime search and rescue service and a maritime casualty and pollution response service. Together, they respond to almost 3,000 call outs and save on average 400 lives a year. Of the call outs, approximately half are maritime incidents, a quarter are inland search and rescue and another quarter involve assisting the National Ambulance Service.

Today the Irish Coast Guard uses state of the art technology to support its work. However, over the decades, its volunteers have had to rely on horse drawn carriages to carry equipment, climbing cliffs on ladders and line-firing rockets to reach grounded vessels, for example, in their rescue efforts. The 200th anniversary is an opportunity to reflect on the legacy and rich history of this crucial rescue service.

Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan TD and Minister of State Hildegarde Naughton with specific responsibility for the Irish Coast Guard in Carlingford as they mark 200 years of the Lifesaving service with a Coastguard Helicopter flypastMinister for Transport Eamon Ryan TD and Minister of State Hildegarde Naughton with specific responsibility for the Irish Coast Guard as they mark 200 years of the Lifesaving service with a Coastguard Helicopter flypast at at Greenore Coast Guard Station on Carlingford Lough

Modern volunteer Coast Guard units provide a combination of Rescue Boat, Cliff Rescue, Shoreline Search Capabilities, and Emergency Community Support in conjunction with the other emergency services. Development in the use of Small Unmanned Aircraft systems (Drones) provide Coast Guard units with an enhanced search capability while Coast Guard helicopters provide 24/7 services out of four bases (Dublin, Waterford, Shannon, Sligo).

Minister for Transport, Eamon Ryan TD said: “The Irish Coast Guard Service has always been, and remains, a critical part of Ireland’s emergency response system. Last year, the Coast Guard reported a 12% increase in the overall number of incidents coordinated during 2021. Hardly a day goes by without hearing of the extraordinary work carried out bravely and selflessly by its staff and volunteers. Whether it’s the rescue of someone from the sea, a cliff or mountain rescue, the provision of maritime safety broadcasts, ship casualty operations or the investigation of pollution reports, they provide a 24/7 service for, and on behalf of, the Irish people.

Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan TD as he meets with Kevin Doherty along with members of the Greenore Coast Guard Station, County Louth from left Owen Connolly , Denise Fegan and Eddie Marmion as they mark 200 years of the Lifesaving serviceMinister for Transport Eamon Ryan TD as he meets with Kevin Doherty along with members of the Greenore Coast Guard Station, County Louth from left Owen Connolly , Denise Fegan and Eddie Marmion as they mark 200 years of the Lifesaving service

I am delighted to mark this 200-year celebration and to reflect on its rich history by recognising the tireless work of Irish Coast Guard staff and volunteers - both those currently in duty and those who have served before them, and their families right across the country.”

Minister of State Hildegarde Naughton TD said: “The Irish Coast Guard is one of the State’s Principal Emergency Services and their work is both challenging and varied. I would like to acknowledge the commitment of staff and volunteers for providing this crucial service and particularly for maintaining service delivery throughout the Covid pandemic. This week I am continuing my visits to our coast guard units across the country. The dedication and commitment towards protecting people along our coastline and inland waters is palpable to say the least. I continue to hear stories of volunteers leaving their families at home at the dead of night, or on Christmas Day, to assist a person in difficulty; a fact that demonstrates the personal sacrifice that is made by our volunteers 365 days of the year. Without our volunteers we simply would not have this lifesaving service.

I am also pleased to announce the publication earlier this week of the second annual report on the National Search and Rescue Plan, submitted by the National Search and Rescue (SAR) Committee. The Report shows a lot of evidence of inter-agency co-operation which is made possible by the close bonds forged locally between the services and inter-agency training and exercising.”

About the Irish Coast Guard

The Coast Guard’s role is to provide maritime search and rescue, maritime casualty, and pollution response service. The Coast Guard is a Division within the Irish Maritime Directorate (IMD) of the Department of Transport.

History of the Irish Coast Guard

The Irish Coast, which can trace its roots to 1822 after the passing of the Coast Guard Act in London. Initially, the Coast Guard took on revenue protection and coastal defence duties and acted as a reserve force for the Royal Navy. By 1860, there were approximately 200 Coast Guard stations around the country however, many of these were attacked and destroyed during the War of Independence and Civil War. After the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty in 1921, the Coast Guard along with its 109 remaining stations were handed to the Irish Free State and remained as the Coast Life Saving Service (CLSS).

In 1990, the Irish Marine Emergency Service (IMES) was established and in February 2000, this became ‘Garda Costa na hÉireann’ or ‘Irish Coast Guard’ (IRCG).

Commemorative Proof of Service Wreck Token

The Commemorative Proof of Service wreck token is based on original Proof of Service wreck tokens which were issued to all Coast Guard stations since 1822. When the Coast Guard members or members of the public attended to a rescue, the Officer in Charge would give all who attended the rescue a Proof of Service wreck token. Anyone who was issued with a token would then hand it back to the Inspector when he next visited the Coast Guard station as proof of his/her attendance at a rescue. He/she would then be paid the appropriate amount in exchange for the token.

These Proof of Service wreck tokens were maintained at each Coast Guard station. Two types were cast over the 200-year period and while both had a clipper on one side, the British version (1822-1922) had the Crown on the other side while the Irish version (post 1922) had the harp. Very few of these original Proof of Service wreck tokens have survived however they are an important part of the 200-year history of our Coast Guard service on this island.

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The Mayo offshore island of Inishturk is to secure a new helipad for use by Irish Coast Guard air-sea rescue helicopters.

Funding of over €357,000 for the construction of the helipad has been approved by Minister for Rural and Community Development Heather Humphreys.

She says the Department of Rural and Community Development investment will “provide a vital resource for the Irish Coastguard to access the island in an emergency”.

Inishturk lies in outer Clew Bay, some nine miles or about 15km off the Mayo coast between Inishbofin and Clare Island.

It has a population of between 51 and 60 people, and made international headlines in 2016 when it was reported to have offered a refuge to US citizens who did not vote for Donald Trump as president.

Former island development officer Mary Catherine Heanue subsequently said she never actually issued the appeal to north Americans, which was attributed to her in news reports, but said the response on social media did benefit the island’s tourism.

"We would never actually turn anyone away, not even Mr Trump," Ms Heanue, who runs Ocean View guesthouse with her husband Bill, said at the time.

The island has a mixed fishing and farming economy and daily ferry crossings from Roonagh, Co Mayo.

Ms Humphreys said the funding she had approved would cover up to 90% of the cost of the helipad project, with Mayo County Council providing the balance.

She announced an air service contract worth €4.9 million for the Aran islands and over €2 million in funding for road projects on the islands off Donegal.

“This helipad will be a vital resource to the Irish Coastguard, providing them with a safe place to land on the island itself,” she said.

“Making our islands more sustainable is a key priority of mine as minister,” she said.

“I have no doubt that this particular funding will come as welcome news for Inishturk, and I want to also commend the Irish Coast Guard for the vital work they do,”she said.

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Valentia Coast Guard Station is reported to have been offline for up to 12 hours on Sunday night last due to staffing issues. The Department of Transport says the responsibilities at the time were shared between Malin Head and Dublin centres and that this arrangement had been pre-planned due to staff availability issues.

The matter has been raised by Fianna Fail West Cork TD., Christopher O’Sullivan, who said that all Coast Guard stations should be fully staffed and he was seeking to have the matter looked into.

There are understood to be vacancies for Watch Officers at all three Coast Guard stations. Six are said to have been recruited and more will be advertised.

THE ECHO Cork has more on the story today here, reporting that there are understood to be vacancies for Watch Officers at all three Coast Guard stations. Six are said to have been recruited and more will be advertised.

It also reports that staff members at Valentia have been covering extra shifts because of the shortage of personnel.

THE ECHO Cork leads on the Valentia Coastguard staffing storyTHE ECHO Cork leads on the Valentia Coastguard staffing story

Published in Coastguard

Dun Laoghaire Harbour might see more of the R116 Coastguard Helicopter after this month's major inter-agency marine and coastal agency emergency services display at the Dublin Bay Port.

Held in the Ferry Marshalling Area of the Harbour on June 16th, the display was described as a 'non-public event'.

Arising out of the pow-wow, the County Dublin site has been highlighted as one with good connectivity and landing options for the coastguard helicopter.  This is especially the case concerning Ambulance transfer to nearby St. Vincent's Hospital at Elmpark in Dublin 4, according to one Afloat source.

The briefing dealt with emergency landing zones, evacuation procedures, Ambulance access points, Major incident facilities and Port Secure Zones. 

The operational briefing had static displays and equipment capabilities with the Irish Coast Guard's Dun Laoghaire Unit, RNLI Dun Laoghaire Lifeboat Station, Irish Coast Guard - Rescue Helicopter 116 and DLRCOCO staff from Dun Laoghaire Harbour and Dun Laoghaire Marina. 

An Incident Command Unit, Mobile units and equipment, an All-terrain vehicle, Dun Laoghaire's Trent class All-Weather lifeboat, D-Class Inshore lifeboat, and R116 were displayed.

As a weekend of aquatic activity approaches, Water Safety Ireland, the Coast Guard and the RNLI have issued a joint appeal calling for caution at waterways nationwide. The appeal aims to reduce summer drownings and comes as figures released for National Water Safety Awareness Week (June 13-19) show that 79 people drowned in 2021. A total of 1,108 drowned in the last ten years, an average of nine every month.

'79 people drowned in 2021, three more than in 2020 and although this is well below the annual average of 111 drownings every year over the last decade, it is still a tragic unnecessary loss of life and a significant public health issue’, commented Roger Sweeney, Acting CEO at Water Safety Ireland. Drownings can happen quickly and silently, and warmer weather sometimes lulls people into a false sense of security, however waterways are still quite cool which affects the muscles needed to swim safely back to shore. Swim at lifeguarded waterways or in designated bathing areas that are known to be safe and have ringbuoys present. Stay within your depth, supervise children closely and never use inflatable toys on open water as you can be swept from shore in an instant.

‘Alcohol is a factor in one third of drownings,’ added Sweeney, ‘and should never be consumed before any aquatic activity as it can lead to someone overestimating their ability and underestimating the risks. Mark Water Safety Awareness Week by having a water safety conversation with loved ones. Make them aware about dangerous rip currents and how quickly an incoming tide can cut walkers off from shore. The Covid-19 pandemic increased the level of interest in aquatic activities and consequently a busy period ensued for the Irish Coast Guard, the RNLI, the Community Rescue Boats and for the Lifeguards trained and assessed by Water Safety Ireland and employed by local authorities. This weekend, let the Lifeguards be there for you.”

Micheál O’Toole, Irish Coast Guard Operations Manager said: ‘This week affords us an excellent opportunity to focus on coastal and water safety and to promote awareness of the Code of Practice for the Safe Operation of Recreational Craft. It is a valuable source of information, advice and best practice operational guidance for owners, masters, operators and users of a range of pleasure and recreational craft operating in Irish coastal and inland waters.’ See; www.safetyonthewater.gov.ie

Kevin Rahill, RNLI Water Safety Lead, added: ‘With the weather improving and more people going in or on the water, it is important to take some basic steps to stay safe while having fun. If you are going swimming, try to avoid going alone and make sure you are visible at all times by wearing a brightly coloured swim cap. Use a tow float and carry a suitable means of communication such as a mobile phone in a waterproof pouch and a whistle. If you get into trouble in the water, Float to Live: lean back, using your arms and legs to stay afloat. Control your breathing, then call for help or swim to safety.

‘For those going afloat, wear a lifejacket or personal floatation device and carry a reliable means of raising the alarm such as a VHF radio or mobile phone. Go prepared by checking the weather forecast and tide times, tell someone where you are going and what time you will be back, and importantly, what to do if you do not arrive back on time. Should you get into difficulty or see someone else in trouble, dial 999 or 112 and ask for the Coast Guard.’

Advice to keep safe:

  • Swim at Lifeguarded waterways: or at designated bathing areas that are traditionally known to be safe and have ringbuoys present.
  • Swim within your depth – stay within your depth.
  • Watch out for submerged hidden hazards and unexpected depths - get in feet first.
  • Supervise children closely and never use inflatable toys in open water.
  • When walking the shoreline be aware that incoming tides can quickly lead to stranding.
  • Wear a lifejacket when boating or angling and make sure that it is fitted with a crotch strap.
  • When boating, carry a VHF radio, and as a backup a fully charged mobile phone in a waterproof pouch.
  • If you see someone in difficulty or think they are in trouble, use Marine VHF CH 16 or call 112/ 999 and ask for the Coast Guard.
Published in Water Safety

Maritime lawyer Michael Kingston has questioned why there has been no inquest date has been set into the death of Irish Coast Guard volunteer Caitriona Lucas.

As The Sunday Independent reports, Mr Kingston said it was" shocking” that almost six years after Ms Lucas’s death, no inquest has taken place yet.

Ms Lucas (41), a librarian, mother of two, and advanced coxswain with Doolin Coast Guard in Co Clare, died off Kilkee on September 12th, 2016.

She had offered to help out the neighbouring Coast Guard Kilkee unit in a search for a missing man, and died after the unit’s rigid inflatable boat (RIB) capsized in a shallow surf zone.

Two other crew members on board the RIB, who were also thrown into the sea, survived.

As Ms Lucas was pronounced dead in hospital in Limerick, responsibility for her inquest is with the Limerick coroner’s office.

Earlier this month, an inquest into the deaths of four air crew in the Irish Coast Guard Rescue 116 crash resumed, following publication of the final Air Accident Investigation Unit report last November.

In Ms Lucas’s case, two separate investigations were completed some time ago into the circumstances surrounding her death.

The Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) report was published in December 2018.

Maritime lawyer Michael Kingston Maritime lawyer Michael Kingston

Two years ago Ms Lucas’s husband, Bernard Lucas, was informed by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) that no criminal charges would be brought after a separate investigation by the Health and Safety Authority (HSA).

The MCIB report was critical of the Irish Coast Guard’s safety management system, and catalogued a number of systems and equipment failures in relation to the Kilkee Coast Guard unit.

However, Mr Lucas said that he “very disappointed” that the published MCIB report had failed to address questions over equipment his wife was wearing, and both he and members of the Kilkee Coast Guard unit queried the location given in the report.

Mr Kingston has also criticised the MCIB report into Ms Lucas’s death, and has called for a re-investigation.

Read more in The Sunday Independent here

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Every Year Ireland's Search & Rescue Services deliver emergency life saving work on our seas, lakes and rivers.

Ireland's Water Safety Agencies work hard to provide us with the information we need to keep safe, while enjoying all manner of water based activities.

There's no better fun than getting out on the water but being afloat is a responsibility we all need to take seriously.

These pages detail the work of the rescue agencies. We also aim to promote safety standards among pleasure boaters, and by doing so, prevent, as far as possible, the loss of life at sea and on inland waters. If you have ideas for our pages we'd love to hear from you. Please email us at [email protected]

Think Before You Sink - Wear a Lifejacket

Accidents can happen fast on water and there may not be time to reach for a lifejacket in an emergency therefore don't just carry a lifejacket - wear it; if it's not on you, it can't save your life.

Irish Water Safety's Safe Boating Alert:

Check condition of boat and equipment, hull, engine, fuel, tools, torch.

Check the weather forecast for the area.

Check locally concerning dangerous currents and strong tides.

Do not drink alcohol while setting out or during your trip.

Carry an alternative means of propulsion e.g. sails and oars or motor and oars.

Carry a first aid kit on board and distress signals (at least two parachute distress rockets, two red hand flares).

Carry a fire extinguisher, a hand bailer or bucket with lanyard and an anchor with rope attached.

Carry marine radio or some means of communication with shore.

Do not overload the boat - this will make it unstable.

Do not set out unless accompanied by an experienced person.

Leave details of your planned trip with someone ashore - including departure and arrival times, description of boat, names of persons on board, etc.

Wear a Lifejacket at all times.

Keep an eye on the weather - seek shelter in good time.

In Marine Emergencies, call 999 or 112 and ask for Marine Rescue.

Lifejackets Checklist

Ensure Cartridges have not been punctured and are secured firmly.

Ensure all zips, buckles, fasteners and webbing straps are functioning correctly and adjusted to fit the user.

Check that fitted lights are operating correctly.

Ensure that Automatic Inflation devices are fully serviced and in date.

Check that the valve or lifejacket is not leaking.