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Allianz and Afloat - Supporting Irish Boating

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Displaying items by tag: Newcastle

Portaferry RNLI in Northern Ireland was requested to launch by Belfast Coastguard to reports of a fishing boat aground at St John’s Point early on Friday morning (5 August).

The volunteer crew’s pagers sounded at 6.24am and they made their way to St John’s point at Ardglass, where they arrived just before 7am and were joined by Newcastle RNLI with their all-weather and inshore lifeboats.

They found the 16m fishing boat, with a crew of four, was aground on a rocky coastline off St John’s Point.

Portaferry’s inshore lifeboat crew checked the fishing boat for damage before taking the four male adults onboard the lifeboat and bringing them to safety at Ardglass Marina.

Once on land, the casualties were transferred into the care of Newcastle Coastguard Rescue Team.

Commenting on the callout, Portaferry RNLI helm Chris Adair said: “This was an early morning callout for our crew and thankfully it had a successful outcome.

“We also wish to express our thanks to our colleagues in Newcastle RNLI who launched both their lifeboats and travelled to the scene. We were grateful to have them there.

“With conditions fair, the four casualties were brought to safety quickly and we wish them well.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

In the first of two callouts in quick succession on Saturday evening (30 July), Newcastle RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat was called to assist a broken-down boat at Gunns Island.

The volunteer crew answered their pagers at 5.57pm and launched the lifeboat in smooth seas but with poor visibility, mist and a Force 1-2 wind.

Before arriving on scene at Gunns Island northeast of the Co Down lifeboat station on Northern Ireland’s east coast, it emerged the Portaferry Coastguard Rescue Team had already assisted the crew of the boat and got them ashore. Arrangements were made to have the boat recovered later.

Then at 6.56pm the lifeboat was diverted to a second call to reports of a vessel in distress between Killyleagh and Whiterock in Strangford Lough to the north.

The crew attended the area and conducted a thorough search but nothing was found. Portaferry Coastguard Rescue Team carried out their own shore search and again nothing was found.

The volunteer crew were stood down at 8.50pm and returned to Newcastle Lifeboat Station, where the lifeboat was made ready for the next callout, at 11pm.

Shane Rice, RNLI coxswain for Newcastle RNLI said: “Thankfully both these callouts ended well. The persons who raised the alarm did exactly the right thing by dialling 999 and asking for the coastguard.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Newcastle RNLI rescued five rowers early yesterday morning (Sunday 26 June) after they got into difficulty in challenging weather conditions 23 nautical miles northeast of Ardglass.

The crew from the GB Row Challenge had left Tower Bridge London on 12 June to circumnavigate Great Britain and to collect environmental data.

The vessel had been monitored throughout the night by HM Coastguard with frequent radio transmissions. During a check at 7 am on Sunday, the rowers explained they had capsized and righted themselves but were unable to row.

Newcastle RNLI was requested to launch their all-weather lifeboat at 7.15 am. Weather conditions at the time were poor with a Force 7 southerly wind and very rough seas. The lifeboat launched under Gerry McConkey and with crew members Shane Rice, Lochlainn Leneghan, Declan McClelland, Karl Brannigan and Declan Barry onboard. Conditions deteriorated following the launch with weather increasing to a Force 9 southerly wind and high seas.

On arrival at 9.24 am, the volunteer crew assessed the situation and decided a tow was necessary to bring the vessel’s crew to safety. Such were the conditions at sea that it took three attempts before a tow was successfully established. Newcastle RNLI then towed the vessel to the nearest safe port at Ardglass, a passage that took two hours.

The rowers were met by Newcastle Coastguard, and one was checked over by the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service.

Speaking following the call out, Newcastle RNLI Coxswain Gerry McConkey said: “We would like to wish the rowers well following their experience yesterday after they got caught by the poor weather. I would also like to commend our volunteer crew who used their skills and training to work in what were extremely challenging conditions that deteriorated during the call out to successfully bring the five people to safety.”

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, another crew of round-Britain rowers were rescued by Red Bay RNLI on Saturday (25 June) amid “hugely challenging conditions” at sea off Northern Ireland.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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In the first of two callouts on Saturday (4 June), Newcastle RNLI’s volunteer crew came to the aid of two people on a RIB some 12 miles offshore.

Pagers sounded just after 7.10am on Saturday morning following a report that two of the six people on the RIB, which was on passage to the Isle of Man from Ardglass, were suffering with severe seasickness.

Weather conditions at the time were challenging, with a four-metre sea swell and an east-northeasterly Force 5 wind.

The all-weather lifeboat, under coxswain Niall McMurray, immediately made its way to the scene off the Co Down coast in Northern Ireland to meet the RIB.

On arrival, the lifeboat crew assessed the situation before taking the two sick passengers onboard. The crew then checked them over and reassured them as they were then brought back to Ardglass Harbour, where they were handed into the care of Newcastle Coastguard.

Later that day a second call came shortly after 6pm when concerns were raised for a pleasure craft close to Maggies Leap. However, this turned out to be a false alarm and the volunteer crew were stood down shortly after arriving at the station.

Speaking following the callouts, McMurray said: “Conditions at sea were challenging on Saturday morning but we were glad to be able to bring the casualties safely ashore when they were unwell.

“The second call transpired to be a false alarm, but I would like to commend my fellow crew members who responded so quickly again, ready to respond and go to the aid of others.

“As we head into the summer months, we want to remind everyone to enjoy themselves, but to also make sure you stay safe and know what to do in an emergency. It is important that anyone visiting the coast understands the risks of the environment. It can be very unpredictable, particularly during early summer when the risk of cold water shock significantly increases, as air temperatures warm but water temperatures remain dangerously cold.

“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. In a coastal emergency, call 999 or 112 for the coastguard.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Volunteers at Newcastle RNLI rescued a swimmer who got into difficulty in rough seas close to the Co Down harbour this morning (Wednesday 2 March).

Two volunteers and three visiting staff members were working at the lifeboat station when shortly after 11am they observed a swimmer clinging to a buoy off the slip, having struggled in rough seas, and immediately went to their aid.

Station mechanic Shane Rice, under the watchful eye of the four others, grabbed a throw line and threw it to the swimmer who was able to reach it and hold on as the group successfully pulled them out of the water and brought them safely onto shore.

Weather conditions at the time were poor, with an easterly Force 6 wind and moderate waves.

Speaking following the rescue, Newcastle RNLI lifeboat operations manager Lisa Ramsden said: “This morning’s rescue was testament to our team who were in the right place at the right time, reacting quickly and efficiently, and I want to commend them for responding with courage and determination when they spotted the person in difficulty. We would like to wish the swimmer well following their experience this morning.”

She added: “Open water swimming is a popular activity, and we would encourage all swimmers to enjoy their swim while using some key safety advice.

“Check weather forecast and tide times before venturing out. Always carry a means of calling for help and let someone on the shore know where you are going and when you are due back. If you can, try to avoid swimming alone — consider going with a buddy or as part of a group and look out for one another.

“Make sure you have the right kit. We would recommend a wetsuit in order to keep you warm and to increase your buoyancy together with a bright swim cap to make you more visible and a tow float to use in an emergency.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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When it retired from active service at Margate on England’s southeast coast in April last year, the Mersey class all-weather lifeboat faced an uncertain future but RNLB Leonard Kent has now arrived at its new home at Newcastle in County Down where it will continue its lifesaving work.

Leonard Kent initially spent some time at the RNLI Support Centre at Poole but was considered worthy of further service and subsequently earmarked to replace Newcastle’s existing Mersey class lifeboat from where it will operate until building work at the station has been completed and their new Shannon class all-weather lifeboat arrives.

Leonard Kent was moved to a boatyard at West Cowes on the Isle of Wight and treated to a life-extension programme including upgrading the electronics to the latest Systems and Information Management System (SIMS). Leonard Kent would have been familiar with its surroundings having been built at the then FBM Marine shipyard at Cowes in1992.

Training on the new upgraded Systems and Information Management System was carried out while the lifeboat was on passage from Dun Laoghaire to Newcastle this weekTraining on the new upgraded Systems and Information Management System was carried out while the lifeboat was on passage from Dun Laoghaire to Newcastle this week

On receiving the new lifeboat to Newcastle RNLI this week, Lifeboat Operations Manager Lisa Ramsden said: ‘It is with a sense of nostalgia that we bid farewell to our outgoing all-weather lifeboat, the Eleanor and Bryant Girling, which served the Newcastle community and all those whose aid she went to, for almost 30 years. As we begin a new chapter, we are looking forward to being the custodians of the Leonard Kent and the volunteer crew are excited to now have an upgraded Mersey.

‘Training on the new upgraded Systems and Information Management System was carried out while the lifeboat was on passage from Dun Laoghaire to Newcastle this week. The removal of the original radar and navigation system from the Mersey helps to reduce weight and create more space in the wheelhouse while an additional benefit for us here in Newcastle RNLI is that the new system will ensure the volunteer crew are prepared and proficient in the radar and navigation systems that will come with our future Shannon class lifeboat.’

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Lifeboat crews from Portaferry and Newcastle RNLI were involved in the rescue of a man whose cabin cruiser was in danger of sinking off Co Down yesterday (Thursday 16 September).

The volunteers were requested to launch their lifeboats at 6pm yesterday evening following a request from Belfast Coastguard to go the aid of the casualty, who had abandoned his 9m cabin cruiser and had been rescued by the crew of a nearby motorboat.

Portaferry RNLI’s inshore lifeboat — helmed by Fergal Glynn and with crew members George Toma, Rosslyn Watret and David Fisher onboard — launched immediately and made its way to the scene one mile east of Gunn’s Island, southeast of the entrance to Strangford Lough on Northern Ireland’s east coast.

Newcastle RNLI, meanwhile, launched its all-weather lifeboat under coxswain Gerry McConkey and six crew members onboard, facing Force 4-5 southerly winds and a two- to two-and-a-half-metre sea swell.

Once on scene, the lifeboat crews saw that the casualty — who had been on his way to Bangor when his vessel took on water and the engine cut out — had deployed his life raft prior to his rescue.

The crews also observed that the cruiser was partially submerged, was listing and in a spin.

Having first checked that the casualty was safe and well on the motorboat, Portaferry RNLI transferred him onto the lifeboat before doing a further assessment. The man was cold and in shock but otherwise well.

The crew took the life raft onboard and deflated it before bringing the casualty to the nearest safe port at Ardglass, where they transferred the casualty into the care of Portaferry Coastguard.

Remaining at the scene, Newcastle RNLI proceeded to deal with the casualty vessel, with some crew working to establish an alongside tow while other crew members started the lifeboat’s salvage pump.

Due to the sea conditions, a decision was made to keep the pump onboard the lifeboat and instead pass the hose onto the boat to relieve the ingress of water.

In calmer waters and in the entrance of Strangford Lough, two crew members were transferred onto the vessel to assess the extent of the flooding. The lifeboat then proceeded to tow the vessel safely back to Strangford Lough.

Speaking following the callout, Portaferry RNLI helm Fergal Glynn said: “We would like to wish the casualty well following his ordeal yesterday evening and commend the crew of the motorboat who were first on scene and rescued him.

“This operation was a team effort with our colleagues from Newcastle RNLI and Portaferry Coastguard all playing their part to bring both the man and the vessel to safety.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Newcastle RNLI in Northern Ireland had a busy Friday (16 July) with four callouts within a span of 20 hours.

The volunteer crew were first requested to launch their inshore lifeboat at 2.36am on Friday morning to assist two men on a small boat which had broken down after experiencing difficulties off the Co Down coast. The vessel was towed back to its mooring at Newcastle Harbour.

At 12.40pm on Friday, the station’s all-weather lifeboat crew were requested by Belfast Coastguard to conduct a search after a number of personal possessions, including a swimmer’s robe, were discovered a short distance from the lifeboat station.

Shortly after the lifeboat was launched, it was stood down when it was ascertained the items had been on the rocks for several days.

Later at 6.53pm, both the inshore and all-weather lifeboats were requested to launch following a report to Belfast Coastguard from a member of the public that they had lost sight of a man that had entered the water after his dog at Murlough Beach in the Dundrum area.

As the lifeboats were about to launch, they were stood down as the man had managed to make it ashore.

At 9.14pm on Friday, both lifeboats were again requested to launch following a report that a parachutist had lost control and crashed into the water, south of Newcastle Harbour.

Extensive searches were carried out, with assistance from a coastguard helicopter from Wales, as well as local coastguard teams. During the search, lifeboat crew spotted a large deflated helium balloon which was retrieved from the sea. The search was subsequently stood down.

Speaking following the callouts, Newcastle RNLI lifeboat operations manager Lisa Ramsden said: “It has been a busy period for the station and I would like to commend our volunteer team and our colleagues in the various emergency services for their efforts.

“Some of these callouts transpired to be false alarms with good intent and we want to thank those who raised the alarm. We would always much rather launch and find that all is well than not launch at all.

“As we continue to enjoy some glorious weather, we would like to remind everyone to enjoy themselves but to always respect the water as they do. Always wear a lifejacket or personal flotation device and always carry a means of communication.

“Always let someone on the shore know where you are going and when you are due back and should you get into difficulty or see someone else in trouble, dial 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Newcastle RNLI volunteer crew launched the inshore D class lifeboat 'Eliza' at the request of Belfast Coastguard to assist three kayakers who were in difficulties in Dundrum Inner Bay yesterday morning. The bay lies on the south County Down coast about 6km east of Newcastle.

The Inner Bay is almost landlocked and separated by the dune systems of Ballykinler to the north and Murlough to the south.

The kayakers, a mother, her daughter, and a friend, had launched their kayaks at the slipway opposite Dundrum chapel in the Main Street, on a falling tide and paddled towards the channel between Murlough Nature Reserve and Ballykinler Army Camp.

Dundrum Inner Bay is almost landlocked and separated by the dune systems of Ballykinler to the north and Murlough to the south.Dundrum Inner Bay is almost landlocked and separated by the dune systems of Ballykinler to the north and Murlough to the south

With the tide surging out of the Inner Bay and towards the open sea, the three kayaks were swept towards the bar mouth. Conditions were rough at the time and the group were hailed on a tannoy by Range Controllers who saw them from the nearby army camp and who advised them to turn around. With the three kayakers caught in the grip of the tide, one of them managed to call Belfast Coastguard who immediately tasked Newcastle RNLI inshore lifeboat and Newcastle Coastguard team to the scene.

Newcastle RNLI Coxswain, Niall McMurray, said, "Thankfully when we arrived on scene one of the kayakers had managed to make shore on the Murlough side of the channel while the other two had made shore on the Ballykinler side".

Two of the kayakers had capsized and spent some time in the water before making it ashore. The Range Controllers took care of the two people in Ballykinler while the Coastguards from Newcastle picked up the third on Murlough beach and took her to the army camp to be reunited with her group.

"We retrieved the kayaks from the water and returned to station" said Niall McMurray.

"All three kayakers were well equipped with lifejackets, radios and mobile phones but unfortunately got caught out by the strength of a surging tide which swept them towards the bar mouth which was rough because of the south wind".

The RNLI would advise all kayakers to always carry a means of calling for help and have it stored in an easy to reach location in case of emergency. Also, consider taking a mobile phone with the SafeTrx app.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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The volunteer crew at Newcastle RNLI in Co Down returned to sea recently after normal training exercises had to be curtailed due to Covid-19.

While the station has remained fully operational throughout the pandemic and volunteers have remained on call 24/7, training has been limited for Northern Ireland’s RNLI crews.

The crew took their first training session in daylight hours in Dundrum Bay while the second exercise was at night. The volunteers all wore the necessary COVID-19 PPE as well as their usual seagoing suits and lifejackets during the training.

The Mersey class all-weather lifeboat Eleanor and Bryant Girling was given a timely workout on both occasions, which provided an opportunity for the crew members to put their training and lifesaving skills into practice.

Speaking following the exercises, Newcastle RNLI coxswain Nathan Leneghan said: “Maintaining our lifesaving service while keeping our people safe continues to be the RNLI’s main priority.

Newcastle RNLI volunteers on their recent night-time exercise

“Exercises form an important part of our work, allowing our lifeboat crews to maintain their skills and ensure they are always prepared for what they face out at sea.

“In the daylight exercise, we went on a local area knowledge exercise and mechanical shakedown to trial all the systems, ensuring they are ready when required. It was a glorious morning and a great opportunity to return to exercise.”

Newcastle RNLI’s second coxswain Niall McMurray added: “During the night-time exercise, the crew covered some mechanical engine tests after which we went on to focus on emergency procedures.

“We ran through all the alarms on the lifeboat to reacquaint ourselves with the different sounds and how to react if they were activated in a real-life situation. We practised a fire drill and how to deal with a fire in each area of the lifeboat.

“We then went on to test our flares which are primarily used to light up an area at night before concluding the evening learning how to rig and operate the emergency steering.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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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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