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Displaying items by tag: Irish Coast Guard

As the June bank holiday approaches, the Irish Coast Guard, RNLI and Water Safety Ireland have issued another joint water safety appeal — this time for the many thousands of people expected to take advantage of the break this weekend and visit the coast and inland waters.

The organisations are asking people to check that they have the correct equipment they need to enjoy their activities and that they know what to do in the event of an emergency.

Water-based activities are safe and enjoyable with the right equipment. However, inflatable toys are not suitable for use in open water, including at the seaside, inland waters and rivers.

Inflatable toys, including dinghies and air mattresses, can quickly blow out to open waters or capsize. They should not be used in any open waters.

The three organisations have issued a joint water safety appeal as the summer months traditionally bring an increase in callouts for the search and rescue organisations, including coastguard and lifeboat crews, many of whom are volunteers.

As the popularity of kayaking, canoeing and paddle boarding increases, the safety advice for these activities includes:

  • Always have a means for calling for help and make sure you can access it when you are out on the water
  • Tell someone where you are going and what time you expect to return
  • Wear a lifejacket or buoyancy aid
  • Always check the weather forecast and sea conditions before you set off
  • Paddle in a group where possible. If you're exploring somewhere new, seek knowledge from experienced practitioners in the area

“We want everybody to enjoy our waters but please pay attention to your own safety,” Irish Coast Guard operations manager Micheál O’Toole said.

“Never, ever swim alone and if you are using a boat or kayak, please ensure that if an emergency arises and you need assistance, that you are capable of contacting the coastguard with a marine VHF radio, PLB or EPIRB. Never rely on a mobile phone alone.”

RNLI water safety delivery support Lisa Hollingum said: “It’s great to see people getting out and taking part in water based activities this summer but it’s important to know what to do if something unexpected happens.

“There are so many great products on the market for water safety and something as simple as a water proof pouch to hold a means of communication for when you go out on a paddle board or kayak, can make all the difference.”

Water Safety Ireland’s acting chief executive Roger Sweeney added: “This weekend, the lifeguards trained and assessed by Water Safety Ireland begin summer patrols at local authority run bathing areas.

“Last year, they rescued 473 people and provided first aid to 6,700 people. This weekend, let them be there for you. Bring your loved ones to any of the lifeguarded waterways listed at watersafety.ie.”

If you see somebody in trouble on the water or along the coast, or think they are in trouble, dial 999 or 112 or use VHF Channel 16 and ask for the coastguard.

Published in Water Safety

Skerries RNLI were tasked Wednesday morning (25 May) by Dublin Coast Guard following 999 calls reporting a paddle boarder in distress in the water off Bettystown beach.

Shortly before 11.30am the volunteers in Skerries launched their Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat Louis Simson. The crew plotted a course for Bettystown beach and proceeded as quickly as possible through difficult weather conditions.

Dublin Coast Guard had also tasked the Irish Coast Guard’s Dublin-based helicopter Rescue 116, and just as the lifeboat was arriving on scene they had begun winching a woman from the water.

She had been blown out to sea on her paddle board and was reportedly exhausted and very cold.

Rescue 116 then landed on the beach and with the assistance of Drogheda Coast Guard Unit the woman was transferred to an awaiting ambulance.



To prevent any hazards to navigation, or any additional 999 calls regarding the paddle board, Dublin Coast Guard requested its recovery and the lifeboat subsequently located it just over a mile away before returning to station.

Speaking about the callout, Skerries RNLI’s Gerry Canning said: “This is a great example of all the rescue services working together to ensure the best possible outcome.

“We would advise anyone intending to be on or near the water to check the weather and tides for the local area.”

Published in Rescue

Morale among the Irish Coast Guard’s volunteers is at an all-time now, an Oireachtas committee has been told.

RTÉ News reports on yesterday’s hearing of the Joint Committee on Transport and Communications, which was addressed by former coastguard volunteers who believe they were unfairly dismissed from their roles.

They included Bernard Lucas, widower of the late coastguard volunteer Caitriona Lucas who died during a rescue operation off Kilkee in September 2016.

Bernard Lucas formerly served with Doolin Coast Guard, which was at the centre of controversy following the sudden resignation of six volunteers last November which effectively shut down the unit.

Suggestions of bullying that had allegedly been simmering in Doolin for years prompted a statement in the Dáil at the time referencing a “toxic” working environment within the service.

That sentiment was reiterated yesterday as representatives of the Irish Coast Guard Volunteers Representative Group claimed that a climate of fear has been instilled by upper management.

RTÉ News has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Coastguard
Tagged under

Calls have been made for greater public awareness over the risks of incoming tides after three people were rescued off Sandymount earlier this week.

A multi-agency response involving Dun Laoghaire RNLI and the Irish Coast Guard’s Dublin-based helicopter Rescue 116 led to the casualties’ successful retrieval after they became stranded on a sandbank on Tuesday (26 April).

Speaking to Independent.ie, a local councillor called for a major advertising campaign to highlight the dangers of tides at Sandymount, which has become notorious for such incidents.

“This happens far too often and the Coast Guard use a huge amount of resources every year to rescue people who find themselves in this situation,” Fine Gael’s Cllr James Geoghegan said. Independent.ie has more on the story HERE.

The news comes in the same week as a joint appeal from the coastguard, RNLI and Water Safety Ireland to take care when on or near the water this May Bank Holiday weekend, as reported earlier on Afloat.ie.

Published in Water Safety

It’s feared that Waterford could lose its Irish Coast Guard helicopter base following the recent €800 million request for tender to renew the search-and-rescue contract, as The Times reports.

The tender document issued in December for a new long-term SAR service contract calls for the provision of a minimum of three helicopters with a fixed-wing aircraft on standby.

CHC Ireland — the current contractor on a 10-year, €600 million deal since 2012 — operates the existing service with five helicopters flying from four bases around the coast: in Dublin, Shannon, Sligo and Waterford, the latter of which flies with the code Rescue 117.

The new contract process comes as the Irish Coast Guard embarks on a series of reforms in the wake of the final report into the Rescue 116 tragedy as well as personnel issues afflicting the volunteer unit at Doolin. This week the coastguard issued a revised Safety Statement in support of these changes.

The Times has more on the story HERE (subscription required).

Published in Coastguard

The Irish Coast Guard has reported an 12% increase in the overall number of incidents coordinated during 2021.

And among these, the search and rescue agency saved 474 lives over the course of the year — though tragically 68 lives were lost to drownings, according to its end-of-year statement.

The coastguard said its biggest increases were recorded in April, with 249 incidents in comparison with 139 in April 2020, and in July with 469 incidents, compared with 339 for the same period in 2020.

From September onwards, activity was similar to 2020. The total number of incidents coordinated is expected to reach 2,970 in comparison with 2,665 in 2020.

In the key category of “lives saved”, which is defined as “assistance provided that prevented loss of life, severe risk to life, or protracted hospitalisation”, the coastguard recorded 474 individual responses in the course of 2021.

The agency highlighted the rescue of seven crew members from a fishing vessel off Kenmare Bay on Saturday 27 March, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Four of the crew of the Waterford-based coastguard helicopter Rescue 117 were recognised in the National Bravery Awards last month, with winch operator Sarah Courtney receiving a silver medal for her actions amid exceptionally challenging conditions.

Irish Coast Guard director Eugene Clonan said that since the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, the key challenge has been to ensure the 24/7 delivery of coastguard SAR services.

These services comprise the three rescue coordination centres, volunteer units around the island and the contracted helicopter service, along with the RNLI and community inshore rescue service and the support of the Naval Service and Air Corps.

“We are indebted to the men and women that make up our SAR community, for the discipline and commitment they have demonstrated in facing the challenge presented by Covid and in maintaining service availability throughout the year,” Clonan said.

In addition, the coastguard says it was was notified of a total of 68 drownings in 2021, which is seven fewer than in 2020. The agency says it works closely with Water Safety Ireland (WSI) in monitoring drowning risks and trends, and supports WSI in compilation of drowning statistics.

The coastguard thanks the public for their cooperation and support during the year, including the “positive response” in adhering with severe weather warnings, “and extends best wishes for a safe 2022”.

If you see somebody in trouble on the water or along the coast, use marine VHF Channel 16 or dial 112 and ask for the coastguard.

Published in Coastguard
Tagged under

Fethard RNLI joined Kilmore Quay’s coastguard unit in a multi-agency operation to rescue local residents trapped in their homes by heavy flooding on Christmas Day, according to RTÉ News.

It’s reported that a number of people in the village of Bridgetown were safely removed by lifeboat, while motorists who were either cut off by the flooding or trapped in the water were also assisted.

Wexford Civil Defence and Wexford Fire Service also joined in the rescue effort on Saturday 25 December, as Kilmore Quay Coast Guard acknowledged on social media.

Heavy rainfall delayed the arrival of the Waterford-based Irish Coast Guard helicopter Rescue 117 — and was also responsible for the erosion of bridges near Enniscorthy due to the swelling of the River Borough (Boro), a tributary of the River Slaney.

In a statement, Transport Minister Eamon Ryan said his department “will provide full support for Wexford County Council and other councils as they address and repair the damage caused by the flash floods”.

Published in Rescue

The Irish Coast Guard is appealing to all mariners and coastal communities to be mindful of the severe weather warnings and to note the imminent arrival of Storm Barra.

The coastguard is also appealing to anybody considering any form of coastal or open water recreation to be mindful of the risk posed by forecasted Storm conditions.

Walkers are advised to avoid any exposed areas, including seafront and cliff walkways, as they may be hit by sudden gusts, exposing themselves to unnecessary danger.

All other forms of open water recreation should be avoided, including by experienced practitioners, as it may result in arousing public concerns and causing rescue services to be alerted.

A small craft weather warning is already in place and Met Éireann is forecasting that gale to storm force southeasterly winds will extend to all coastal areas from early Tuesday, veering west to northwest in direction later.

As reported earlier on Afloat.ie, winds are forecast to reach Violent Storm Force 11 on Irish coastal waters from West Cork to Galway. The combination of southeasterly winds, spring tides and low pressure provide for an increased risk of localised flooding.

Coastguard operations manager Micheál O’Toole appealed to the public to remain vigilant, to avoid any unnecessary travel and to monitor Met Éireann weather forecasts.

“Remember: stay back, stay high, stay dry. If you see somebody in trouble on the water or on the coast, dial 112 or use marine VHF Channel 16, and ask for the coastguard.”

Published in Weather

Members of Courtown/Arklow Coast Guard were recently presented with medals of tenure, as the Gorey Guardian reports.

And chief among them was Benjamin Murphy, who was recognised for his 40 years’ service prior to his recent retirement.

“Pulling off 40 years of service is nearly impossible to do and it’s a massive achievement as a volunteer,” David Swinburne of Courtown/Arklow Coast Guard said.

The Gorey Guardian has more on the story HERE.

Published in Coastguard

A crew member on a Spanish fishing vessel who fell ill with a suspected stroke was airlifted in an operation off the South West Coast on Thursday (2 December), as TheJournal.ie reports.

The Irish Coast Guard’s Shannon-based helicopter Rescue 115 was called to the vessel some 80 nautical miles off Castletownbere for the medevac on Thursday afternoon.

Due to poor weather in Cork and Tralee, the casualty — once winched aboard — was flown to Shannon Airport for transfer by ambulance to University Hospital Limerick for further treatment.

Rescue 115’s winchman on the deck of the Spanish fishing vessel for the medevac on Thursday | Credit: Rescue 115/FacebookRescue 115’s winchman on the deck of the Spanish fishing vessel for the medevac on Thursday | Credit: Rescue 115/Facebook

“Many thanks to the crew of Rescue 01, an Irish Air Corps Casa maritime patrol aircraft that provided top cover for us,” the coastguard team said in a statement on social media.

TheJournal.ie has more on the story HERE.

Published in Coastguard
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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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