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Displaying items by tag: Coast Guard

After decades of searching, researchers from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Coast Guard have located the shipwreck of the former U.S. Revenue Cutter, Bear.

The wreck of the Bear, which was lost at sea in 1963, is about 90 miles south of Cape Sable in Nova Scotia.

It was considered an amazing coincidence when the wreck was one of two targets initially located during an expedition two years by the current Coastguard cutter, also named Bear and which it was decided to explore further by USCG and NOAA teams this year by the larger and better equipped USCG's ocean-going buoy tender, Sycamore, with an advanced remotely operated vehicle (ROV) equipped with high-resolution underwater video cameras to to document the "unidentified wreck".

The team was able to collect evidence to positively identify the wreck.

Considered one of the most historically significant ships in U.S. and Coast Guard history, USRC Bear was built in Scotland in 1874 and purchased by the U.S. government in 1884.It was originally put into service by the U.S. Navy during the Arctic search for the Greely Expedition, where she earned her initial fame as the vessel that rescued the few survivors of that expedition. In 1885, Bear was transferred from the Treasury Department for service in the Arctic as a Revenue Cutter, where she patrolled for 41 years. After serving in the Greenland Patrols during World War II, the Bear was decommissioned in 1944 and was lost at sea while being towed to Philadelphia by a private party in 1963.

Researchers have been searching for the Bear since 1979. In 2007, a search was coordinated by the U.S. Navy but was ultimately unsuccessful. In recent years, NOAA and the U.S. Coast Guard have teamed up with other partners to locate the wreck site. The U.S. Revenue Cutter Service was established by Congress in 1790, operating under the Department of Treasury and later merged with the U.S. Life-Saving Service to form the United States Coast Guard.

Published in Historic Boats
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Bundoran RNLI was involved in the rescue of a woman who got into difficulty off the Main Beach in Bundoran early yesterday morning (Sunday 10 October).

The volunteer crew were requested to launch their inshore lifeboat by Malin Head Coast Guard shortly after 8 am following a report that a swimmer was missing off the Main Beach. The alarm was raised by a member of the public.

Weather conditions were poor at the time with fresh winds and rough seas.

The lifeboat helmed by Richard Gillespie and with three crew members onboard, launched immediately and made its way to the scene where on arrival they observed that the casualty had managed to make her way back to shore but was exhausted from doing so. Prior to the lifeboat arriving, a member of the public who spotted the casualty in difficulty, grabbed a life ring and went into the water knee deep to meet the casualty and help her.

Two lifeboat crew members went ashore and began to administer casualty care while Bundoran RNLI’s shore crew and members of the public also assisted.

The Irish Coast helicopter, Rescue 118 from Sligo, was also tasked and when it arrived, the woman was subsequently transferred and airlifted to Sligo University Hospital as a precautionary measure.

Bundoran RNLI volunteer Killian O’Kelly is reminding anyone planning on entering the water at this time of the year to take extra precautions to keep themselves safe: ‘This was the second call out for Bundoran RNLI in just over a week to swimmers who got caught in rip currents and thankfully in both cases, everyone is safe and well. However, we want to remind anyone planning a trip to a beach or entering the water, that weather conditions have changed now that summer is over. There is more sea swell and more wind so the risks as a result can increase. Seasonal lifeguards that would have been patrolling the beach during the summer, are not there during the autumn and winter months so it is important to be extra cautious. If you are going swimming, check the weather forecast and tide times in advance and try not to go alone. Always consider using a tow float and wear a bright coloured cap to increase your visibility.

‘Avoid areas where you see breaking waves unless you have the experience or knowledge of the beach you are on. Rip currents can be difficult to spot and are notoriously dangerous. Even the most experienced beachgoers and swimmers can be caught out by rips and our advice if you do get caught in a rip, is don’t try to swim against it or you will get exhausted. If you can stand, wade and don’t swim. If you can, swim parallel to the shore until free of the rip and then head for shore. Always raise your hand and shout for help. If you see someone who you think might be in trouble, don't delay, dial 999 or 112 and ask for the Coast Guard.’

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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A delay in using night vision goggles purchased by the State for Irish Coast Guard search and rescue helicopter crews has been criticised in the Comptroller and Auditor General’s (C&AG) annual report.

Although over 4.3 million euro was paid by the Department of Transport to CHC Ireland in 2013 to ensure night vision imaging systems (NVIS) capability, only one of four search and rescue bases had been approved for this as of June 2021, the C&AG’s report for 2020 states.

The C&AG notes that a March 2010 report, which was prepared before the tender process for the Irish Coast Guard search and rescue (SAR) helicopter contract, had recommended helicopters be fitted with an NVIS system.

That 2010 report also recommended that night vision goggles and crew training should be provided when funding became available.

“In 2013, the Department of Transport paid €4.305 million to the company providing SAR in Ireland to ensure the five helicopters used for the service are equipped with NVIS capability,” the C&AG states.

“ Another €527,000 was paid in 2015 for 24 sets of night-vision goggles,” it says, and an initial payment of €1.714 million was made in 2018 for training that began in November 2019.

“The night vision goggles would remain the property of the Coast Guard and, on expiry of the current contract, the goggles would continue to be available for use by SAR crew,”the C&AG says.

It notes the department expects the training to be completed by 2022. Sligo is the only SAR base so far approved for NVIS capability by the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA).

The C&AG notes that it will be “some time before all the bases are operating in the same way”.

The Department of Transport told the C&AG that visual reference to the pilots’ outside world is essential for safe and effective flight.

During daylight hours, the pilot relies heavily on the out-the-windshield view of the airspace and terrain for situational awareness, it explained.

“ During night flying, the pilot can improve the out-of-the-windshield view with the use of a NVIS. Overall, NVIS as an additional aid to navigation and search, in suitably equipped aircraft using appropriately trained crews enhances operational effectiveness and safety for both SAR and helicopter emergency medical service (HEMS) operations,” the department said.

It said that NVIS have been shown to pick up small lights, such as lights on lifejackets, hand-held torches and distant vehicles at much greater ranges than the naked eye.

“ When operating overland, NVIS assist the crew in navigating, seeing and avoiding terrain and obstructions as well as being able to identify survivors earlier than with the naked eye,”the department said, and can increase the crew’s overall search capability as NVIS enhances visibility.

The department said that NVIS can provide a “back-up to the forward-looking infrared system (FLIR) if the FLIR suffers an unserviceability in-flight”.

It said that NVIS can assist in identifying suitable landing sites more easily under SAR flight rules. This will also enable the helicopters to access the offshore islands that are without aviation infrastructure such as Inishbofin for medical evacuations under SAR flight rules.

It said that during night-time commercial air transport operations (i.e. HEMS incidents), landing is only permitted at company approved surveyed sites, but NVIS has the potential to remove this restriction and allow crews to land safely at sites which have not been surveyed.

“Overall, the use of night vision aid technology increases night-time situational awareness for pilots and technical crew,”the department said.

It also said that use of night vision goggles “markedly decreases the possibility of collisions with terrain or manmade obstruction”.

In its response to questions raised by the C&AG, the department’s accounting officer said that “of necessity, the implementation of the NVIS has been done on a phased basis”.

“Clearly, training can only take place when the helicopters are correctly equipped and goggles are available to use. Regrettably, the timelines have been far longer than original anticipated,” the department said.

It said the Irish Coast Guard had “consistently pressed the company to deliver the training as quickly as possible, to explore all possible options and to engage with the IAA throughout to determine whether certain elements could be accelerated, all with due regard to safety and to ensuring that the core SAR availability was unaffected”.

It also said that re-fitting the helicopters to make them compatible with NVIS operations “does not confer a competitive advantage to the company” in bidding for the new SAR contract.

The C&AG said that “ significant payments were made from voted funds as long ago as 2013, and the planned capability has not yet been delivered across the service”.

“On that basis, I am not persuaded that good value for money for the taxpayer has been achieved from this expenditure,” he said.

Oireachtas Committee of Public Accounts chairman Brian Stanley welcomed the report and noted it highlighted the “wastage of public money” associated with night vision capability within the Irish Coast Guard.

The full report can be read here

Published in Coastguard
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Director of the Irish Coast Guard Chris Reynolds, on assignment as Head of Mission Eucap Somalia, is not returning to the Coastguard in Ireland.

In a post on social media, Reynolds says: "With a heavy heart I will not be returning, but staying on in Somalia. After a decade as Director probably enough."

In 2019, Reynolds, who is currently on secondment to the EU, was appointed Head of the EU capacity building mission in Somalia, EUCAP Somalia.

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 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.

Published in Coastguard

Ahead of the Bank Holiday weekend the RNLI and HM Coastguard are launching a new safety campaign, urging everyone to choose lifeguarded beaches when they visit the coast. With continued uncertainty over foreign holidays and international travel, the RNLI is predicting this summer will be the busiest ever as Covid restrictions are eased and people choose to ‘staycation’.

In a survey, commissioned by the RNLI, 75% of those questioned - aged 16-64 - expect to visit a UK beach or the coast between April and September, with around half of that number likely to do so three or more times. A significantly higher proportion of the public (36%) also said they plan to visit the coast more than usual this year, compared to 2020 (24%).

Last summer RNLI lifeguards on 11 Northern Ireland beaches, rescued 71 people and dealt with 225 incidents.

‘We are expecting this summer to be the busiest ever for our lifeguards and volunteer lifeboat crews,’ said the RNLI’s Head of Water Safety Gareth Morrison. ‘These new figures back that up.

‘We want people to enjoy the coast but urge everyone to respect the water, think about their own safety and know what to do in an emergency.

‘Our main advice is to visit a lifeguarded beach and swim between the red and yellow flags. RNLI lifeguards will be patrolling 11 beaches in Northern Ireland this summer to offer advice on how to stay safe and they are also there to help anyone who gets into trouble.

‘Coastal areas provide a great opportunity to enjoy fresh air and open space but they can be an unpredictable and dangerous environment, particularly during early summer when air temperatures start warming up but water temperatures remain dangerously cold, increasing the risk of cold water shock.’

The key summer safety advice is:

  • Visit a lifeguarded beach & swim between the red and yellow flags
  • If you get into trouble Float to Live – lie on your back and relax, resisting the urge to thrash about
  • Call 999 in an emergency and ask for the Coastguard

Across the UK last year, RNLI lifeguards saved 110 lives, aided 25,172 people - including 1,908 involving bodyboards and 348 with inflatables – responded to 10,687 incidents and made more than 2.2M preventative actions.

Claire Hughes, Director of HM Coastguard, said: ‘2020 was an exceptionally busy year and we’re expecting more people to take their holidays around our wonderful coasts this summer.

‘We’re asking everyone to follow a few simple safety tips, so the trip is memorable for all the right reasons.

‘Before setting out, take a minute to check the weather, tides and winds to help avoid getting caught out.

‘Leave inflatables at home as they are designed for the pool, not open water, where the wind and current can very quickly take you out to sea and into danger.

‘Recreational watersports such as paddleboarding are now incredibly popular and we’d encourage everyone to make it a fun rather than frightening experience. It pays to prepare and taking a mobile phone in a waterproof pouch when you set out for a paddle will mean you can call for help if needed.

‘If you or someone else is in trouble, always call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.’

Not everyone who finds themselves in trouble in the water, expected to even get wet though.

‘If you find yourself in trouble in cold water, your natural reaction can be to panic and thrash around, which increases the chances of breathing in water and drowning. The best thing to do is to float on your back and wait for the effects of cold water shock to pass until you can control your breathing. You can then plan your next move to reach safety’ added the RNLI’s Gareth Morrison

For further information on the beach safety campaign here

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A swimmer has died after getting into difficulty as Hawk Cliff in Dalkey in Killney Bay yesterday.

The accident happened after the Irish Coast Guard based in Dun Laoghaire Harbour received a call about a swimmer in difficulty.  

Emergency services including the National Ambulance Service, Dublin Fire Brigade, a HSE doctor and local gardai attended at the scene. 

After locating the casualty in the water, they were brought from the water to nearby Coliemore Harbour for urgent medical treatment but sadly passed away.

The Irish Coast Guard said: "Irish Coast Guard - Dun Laoghaire were tasked to a report of a swimmer in difficulty at Hawks Cliff bathing area, with RNLI Dun Laoghaire

Lifeboat Station ILB, National Ambulance Service (NAS), Dublin Fire Brigade, a HSE Doctor and local Gardaí also responding.

Published in Sea Swim

The UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency's (MCA) annual report for April 2019 – March 2020 has been published this week, highlighting the work of the Agency for the 12 month period.

Although the report doesn’t cover the period where the effects of COVID-19 were felt most, it’s clear that the MCA still had a number of challenges to deal with in terms of maritime.

Her Majesty’s Coastguard, the search and rescue service of the MCA responded to more than 31,000 incidents at the coast. The Aeronautical Rescue Coordination Centre – which responds to incidents where aviation support is needed - responded to 3,800 incidents during the annual report’s period of data collection; rescuing over 1,900 people in the process.

As well as frontline search and rescue, HM Coastguard has delivered a number of major projects including making the Channel Navigation Information Service national across its network. This means that, from now on, 24-hour radio and radar coastal vessel traffic data is available at all Coastguard Operations Centres – not just Dover – to help and support vessels navigate waters safely.

Away from HM Coastguard, the MCA’s Maritime Regulatory Compliance Team successfully prosecuted ten cases.

And the UK Maritime Services Team, incorporating the UK Ship Register, continues to move more of its work to digital platforms. The UK Ship Register is now able to process registration and vessel information online and had recorded 77 new ship registrations by the end of March.

The survey and inspection side of the Maritime Services Team has completed its Transformation Programme giving surveyors and customers more flexibility of working. In addition to that, a successful surveyors’ recruitment drive saw the MCA place a minimum of 85 qualified Port State Control Officers in positions by 31st March of this year – meeting its target.

Seafarer training and certification faced a number of challenges at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic but the team worked to find solutions including offering extensions and training online.

The MCA continues to work hard to provide a good workplace and continues to drive equality in its workforce. In the annual report, it shows there has been an increase of just over 15 per cent in the number of female staff holding senior roles within the organisation.

Brian Johnson, Chief Executive of the MCA, said: “I’m proud of all those who work and serve with and for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency. They continue to carry through the commitment to driving forward maritime safety in all aspects of our work

“As this report demonstrates, we – as an agency – continue to keep protecting the general public with our first-class search and rescue service. Elsewhere, exciting work has and is continuing to take place across the board, with important steps being made in many areas, such as Survey and Inspection and enhanced experiences for UK Ship Register customers.

“The final month of this year’s report was affected by Covid-19, in which the Agency had to react and adapt quickly to new challenges. We did so effectively, working closely with and supporting our emergency service partners and local resilience forums, whilst maintaining full capability to operate. This work also extended to supporting the shipping industry during a difficult period and doing our bit to make sure that important services have been able to resume as close to normal as possible in most cases.”

Link to the report is here

Published in Coastguard
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The Irish Coast Guard (IRCG) and RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution) are asking the public not to take part in any water-based activity on or in the sea, while the current national emergency restrictions are in place. Both organisations are highlighting the importance of minimising the risk to Search and Rescue (SAR) volunteer crews, Helicopter crew and other front line emergency services, through being unintentionally exposed to COVID-19.

RNLI and Coast Guard are confirming that their Search and Rescue services are fully operational.

Under normal circumstances, many people would be heading to the coast this weekend to enjoy the Easter bank holiday. Given the current COVID-19 outbreak, both organisations are urging everyone to follow Government instructions, which are clear: stay home, protect frontline services and save lives.

While you are allowed out for daily exercise, we do not recommend that this exercise is on, or in the sea and all travel restrictions must be observed. SAR services including RNLI lifeboat service, Coast Guard Helicopter services and Coast Guard units are still available but every callout has the potential to put additional pressure on SAR services and other front-line emergency services as well as potentially exposing them to COVID-19.

Gareth Morrison, Head of Water Safety at the RNLI, said: “We know people who live near the coast still want to exercise by the sea, but when you do this, please think of the potential impact of your actions on RNLI lifeboat volunteers and other emergency services”’

Gerard O’Flynn from the Coast Guard said: Please; Stay Home & Stay Back to Stay SAFE. Observe the 2x2 Rule. 2M physical distance and 2KM travel distance.

He added; “Arrangements are in place for Coast Guard services including Helicopters and Volunteer Coast Guard units to assist HSE, Gardai and Local Authorities in the provision of community support and other logistical support. We need our people to stay healthy during this emergency to enable us support the national action plan”.’

Published in Coastguard
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The Irish Coast Guard, a Division of the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport has vacancies for Watch Officers at its three Marine Rescue Coordination Centres in Dublin, Malin Head,
Co Donegal and Valentia, Co Kerry.

The IRCG provides a nationwide maritime emergency service as well as a variety of services to shipping and other government agencies.

Watch Officers are responsible for watchkeeping on the emergency frequencies and are required to act as Marine Alert, Notification and/or Search and Rescue Mission Coordination Officers. They also process marine communication traffic and respond to ship casualty, pollution incidents, vessel traffic monitoring and coordination of Coast Guard helicopter operations.

THE CLOSING DATE FOR RECEIPT OF APPLICATIONS IS THURSDAY 30TH APRIL 2020

Full details on this role and the eligibility requirements are available on www.publicjobs.ie

We are committed to a policy of equal opportunity and encourage applications under all nine grounds of the Employment Equality Act.

Cuirfear fáilte roimh chomhfhreagras i nGaeilge

Published in Jobs
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A Galway coroner has paid tribute to a French-Canadian who tried to save the life of a Swiss woman when the caravan she was staying in at a Connemara campsite was swept into the sea during Storm Ali writes Lorna Siggins

Galway West coroner Dr Ciaran McLoughlin also paid tribute to the Irish Coast Guard, National Ambulance Service and Garda and to fellow doctor John Casey, who all risked their lives when attending the scene.

As Afloat reported previously, Swiss nurse Elvira Ferrari (58), a mother of three from Steinmaur, Zurich in Switzerland, tried to escape when winds flipped over the caravan and it was swept down a nine-metre (30 foot) drop into the sea on the morning of September 19th, 2018.

The storm-force 11 winds which hit the west coast were far stronger than speeds forecast, the inquest before Dr McLoughlin heard on Thursday (Oct 31).

The jury heard that Ms Ferrari had booked into the Clifden Eco Beach Camping and Caravan Park on September 16th, 2018, for three nights, and been offered the use of a mobile home as an alternative the previous night due to a bad forecast.

Ms Ferrari (58) had come to Ireland in August of that year to study English in Galway for three weeks and had planned to spend four days in Connemara.

The inquest heard that she had rented a bike in Clifden, which she was due to return on the day of the incident.

Witness Ms Sally Forth of Darlington, England, who was camping at the site, said that she saw a caravan blow over onto its side at about 7.45 am that morning, and it rolled onto a cliff edge and onto the beach. She saw the door open, and a figure trying to get out.

Mr Caleb-Amie Soltendieck, a French-Canadian who was staying at the eco-park with his girlfriend Shamie Gizuere Levesque, said he was alerted by Shamie who had seen the caravan blow over.

He ran out and spotted the caravan on the beach some nine metres (30 foot )below, and in the water.

Mr Soltendieck said he could see someone was trapped underneath.

He managed to get Ms Ferrari out from underneath, but she had severe injuries as her head had been crushed.

The eco-camp owner Kris Acton, who has run the caravan and campsite with his wife Tatjana since 2010, said the weather forecast for Wednesday, September 19th, 2018, had been for 70 mile per hour (MPH) winds.

He said an orange alert had been issued for that part of the coast.

Mr Acton had also checked a British weather forecast, which predicted 68 to 70 MPH winds.

Mr Acton said he had advised customers the night before to move, and had provided storm shields, and also advised those staying there with cars to use them as windbreaks.

He said his wife had spoken to Ms Ferrari on the Tuesday night and offered her the use of a mobile home, as the caravan would be very noisy in high winds.

At 7.45 am on the Wednesday morning, there was a knock on the door and a woman was shouting that a caravan had toppled over.

He ran down to the beach, saw a body, and was told by Mr Soltendieck that there was no pulse. The emergency services were called, and both he and his wife administered cardio-pulmonary resuscitation on instruction.

Mr Acton said that he believed the gusts were over 90 miles per hour and were of a “red alert” category, and winds of this ferocity would only occur in wintertime.

Ms Tatjana Acton said she had spoken to Ms Ferrari the night before, as there had been an issue with her credit card, and they spoke German to each other.

She said she had suggested Ms Ferrari transfer to a mobile home that night, but the Swiss guest seemed more concerned about an issue with her credit card.

Irish Coast Guard Cleggan officer Michael Murray, who reached the scene at 7.58 am, told Dr McLoughlin that the forecast was “well off” in his opinion, and was “near hurricane-force”. He said he had to move his jeep during the incident at one point as the winds were so severe.

Clifden GP Dr John Casey said in his statement that Ms Ferrari sustained catastrophic head injuries and he pronounced her dead at 8.17 am.

Garda Shane Nally of Clifden Garda station said he arrived with three colleagues, and ambulance staff, and Dr Casey was attending Ms Ferrari’s body, which was about three metres (10 ft) from the caravan on the beach.

Pathologist Dr Ramadan Shatwan gave the cause of death as a severe traumatic head injury.

Coroner Dr Ciaran McLoughlin paid tribute to Mr Soltendieck for trying to save Ms Ferrari, and to the emergency services for their bravery in such weather conditions.

He said a storm of that nature was most unusual for that time of year.

“This was indeed a tragic accident, in no way foreseen,” Dr McLoughlin said.

A jury returned a verdict of severe traumatic head injury.

The coroner, the Garda and the jury expressed sympathies to Ms Ferrari’s two sons, Romain and Nico, and daughter Mengia and ex-husband, Bruno. Ms Ferrari’s son Romain and his partner Alexandra were present at the inquest.

Published in Coastguard
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