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At a special naming ceremony and service of dedication held today (Sunday 26 June), volunteers at Dunmore East RNLI officially named their all-weather Shannon class lifeboat, William and Agnes Wray.

The lifeboat which went on service in September last year is named after the Manchester couple who were happily married for over 60 years and who had three children, all of whom have had a proud connection to the sea.

The honour of handing over the lifeboat and officially naming her, went to Robin Malcolm, a representative of David Malcolm, a secondary funder of the lifeboat, assisted by crew member Brendan Dunne. The Shannon is the third all-weather lifeboat that Brendan, a volunteer with the RNLI for 37 years, has served on. He was also crew on the Waveney class, St Patrick and the Trent class Elizabeth and Ronald.

Dunmore East RNLI's All-Weather Shannon Class LifeboatDunmore East RNLI crew on the All-Weather Shannon Class Lifeboat for the christening ceremony

The Shannon replaces the station’s Trent class lifeboat which was on service in Dunmore East since 1996. During those 25 years, Elizabeth and Ronald launched 412 times, bringing 821 people to safety, 20 of whom were lives saved.

During today’s naming ceremony, John Killeen, RNLI Trustee and Chair of the RNLI Council in Ireland, accepted the lifeboat on behalf of the charity before handing her into the care of Dunmore East RNLI.

Deputy Launching Authority Karen Harris accepted the lifeboat on behalf of the station ahead of the Shannon being blessed in a service of dedication led by Father Brian Power and the Reverend Bruce Hayes. The lifeboat was then officially named William and Agnes Wray.

During her address, Karen said the event was a special occasion for the lifeboat station adding that the crew were most grateful to the donors for their generous gift which had funded the lifeboat.

‘As Deputy Launching Authority, part of my job is to authorise her launch when requested. It is my job to send a message to the volunteers, asking them to get down to the station as quickly as possible. When the crew arrive here and get kitted up and head out to sea, we will have peace of mind because this lifeboat will help to keep them safe as they save others. So, on behalf of all the station volunteers, I would like to thank the donors. Your generosity has given Dunmore East a lifesaver.’

Dunmore East RNLI's All-Weather Shannon Class LifeboatThe lifeboat now stationed in the popular Waterford fishing village is the first Shannon class in the RNLI fleet to be based in the south-east of Ireland.

The Shannon class lifeboat is the first modern all-weather lifeboat to be propelled by waterjets instead of traditional propellers, making it the most agile and manoeuvrable all-weather lifeboat in the RNLI’s fleet. The naming of the class of lifeboat follows a tradition of naming lifeboats after rivers. When the Shannon was introduced to the RNLI fleet, it became the first time an Irish river was chosen, and it was done so to reflect the commitment and dedication of Irish lifeboat crew for generations.

Dunmore East RNLI was established in 1884. Since then, the crews have received 18 awards for gallantry.

Among the guests on the platform party were Eddy Stewart-Liberty, Lifeboat Management Group Chair, who welcomed guests and opened and closed proceedings, RNLI Trustee John Killeen who accepted the lifeboat on behalf of the RNLI and handed it into the care of Dunmore East Lifeboat Station, Karen Harris, Dunmore East RNLI Deputy Launching Authority, Robin Malcolm representing David Malcolm and Brendan Dunne who named the lifeboat and David Carroll, author of Dauntless Courage, who delivered a vote of thanks.

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Castletownbere RNLI lifeboat in West Cork was launched on Saturday 25 June 2022 at 10.05 pm last night to go to the immediate assistance of two sailors who were crossing the Atlantic and had run into challenging weather and needed assistance.

A Vermont-based couple had set out in their 37-foot yacht from Boston a number of weeks ago and were crossing the Atlantic on route to Scotland.

At 5:30 pm yesterday evening, the Irish Coast Guard’s Marine Research Coordination Centre in Valentia advised the yacht to change course and make for Castletownbere due to deteriorating weather conditions.

As the evening progressed and weather conditions became increasingly challenging Castletownbere lifeboat, ‘Annette Hutton’, was tasked at 10.00 pm and launched immediately under the command of Coxswain Dean Hegarty with crew Dave O’Donovan, David Lynch, Marc O’Hare, Donagh Murphy and Dion Kelly.

Castletownbere lifeboat, ‘Annette Hutton’, was tasked at 10.00 pm and launched immediatelyCastletownbere lifeboat, ‘Annette Hutton’, was tasked at 10.00 pm and launched immediately

The yacht was located at 10:46 pm. ten miles South-West of Castletownbere – conditions on scene were Westerly Force 6/7 winds and a 3-metre sea swell.

A local fishing boat assisted while the lifeboat escorted the yacht. Once in calmer waters, a lifeboat volunteer went aboard to assist with berthing the yacht at Castletownbere pier. When ashore, the sailors had refreshments in the lifeboat and expressed their gratitude to the Irish Coast Guard, The Castletownbere lifeboat and the skipper of the local trawler. One of the sailors commented: ‘It was so reassuring to see the lifeboat coming – we were tired and sea conditions were challenging and we are so delighted to be safe and on dry land now!’

This was Castletownbere lifeboat's second call-out in two days – on Saturday, the lifeboat was involved in a multi-agency search for a missing person in the Ballylickey area.

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Six round-Britain rowers have been rescued by Red Bay RNLI amid “hugely challenging conditions” at sea off Northern Ireland.

As the Belfast Telegraph reports, the group were part of the GB Endurance team taking part in a coastal rowing challenge around Great Britain when they got into difficulty yesterday afternoon (Saturday 25 June).

The HM Coastguard helicopter from Prestwick in Scotland was also dispatched to the incident off Cushendall on the Co Antrim coast, while a tanker was diverted from its course to provide shelter for the rowers before their rescue by the Red Bay all-weather lifeboat.

In a statement on social media, the lifeboat station said: “Red Bay RNLI all weather lifeboat was launched this evening just after 5pm to reports of six people in difficulty on a small craft sixteen miles east of Cushendall.

“The lifeboat crew have now safely recovered all six people onboard the lifeboat in hugely challenging conditions,” it added.

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Volunteers at Union Hall RNLI in West Cork held a special ceremony and service of dedication on Saturday (25 June) for their Atlantic 85 lifeboat, Christine and Raymond Fielding.

A crowd gathered on Keelbeg Pier for a special ceremony and service of dedication to name Union Hall RNLI’s Atlantic 85 lifeboat, ‘Christine and Raymond Fielding.’

The funding for the lifeboat came from the late Dr. Raymond Fielding, a keen mariner and proud Corkman. While Raymond and his wife Christine did not live to see the lifeboat put into service, Raymond asked that it bear both their names.

RNLI Trustee John Killeen (left) and Vice President Peter Crowley Photo: Bob BatemanRNLI Trustee John Killeen (left) and Vice President Peter Crowley Photo: Bob Bateman

The lifeboat has been on service since June 2021, but the ceremony was postponed to allow the community to celebrate together. The lifeboat was officially handed into the care of the Institution by Eddie Fitzgerald, a close friend of Mr. and Mrs. Fielding. The couple were described by Mr. Fitzgerald as a great team who had been married for 48 years before Christine predeceased Raymond. The Fieldings loved sailing, spending a great deal of time off West Cork, in particular.

RNLI Trustee, John Killeen accepted the lifeboat from Mr. Fitzgerald, on behalf of the charity, before giving it into the care of Union Hall Lifeboat Station, who were represented by Deputy Launching Authority, Peter Deasy. Speaking during the handover, John Killeen said, ‘All of us in the RNLI are one crew and we need the tools of the trade to carry out our lifesaving work. One part of that is the lifeboat, while the other is our volunteers. The lifeboat crew give a lot of their time and take a risk in going out to save people. It’s a fantastic day for the community here in Union Hall.’

In accepting the lifeboat on behalf of the station Deputy Launching Authority Peter Deasy added, ‘While we’re sad to say farewell to our former lifeboat ‘Margaret Bench of Solihull,’ which has served the station faithfully for five years, we look forward to writing a new chapter in the station’s history with the arrival of this new Atlantic class lifeboat.’

‘This Atlantic class lifeboat means that we now have the latest and finest rescue equipment available. I know that when the crews head out to sea, we will have peace of mind that this lifeboat will help to keep them safe. We also remember today the people who worked so hard in setting up this Station and who sadly are no longer with us, particularly Paddy O’Donovan, our former Chairperson of the lifeboat station, who was passionate about establishing a lifeboat here.’

Royal Cork sailors (from left), Amy Mockler, Dick Gibson and Hugh Mockler Photo: Bob BatemanRoyal Cork sailors (from left), Amy Mockler, Dick Gibson and Hugh Mockler Photo: Bob Bateman

A service of dedication was led by Reverend Chris Peters and Father Gerard Thornton. Following this, the lifeboat was officially named by Bill Deasy, Union Hall RNLI boathouse Manager, with the occasion being marked by Helm Chris Collins pouring champagne over the bow of the lifeboat.

A vote of thanks was delivered by Brian Crowley, Chairperson of Union Hall RNLI. Music for the ceremony was provided by St Fachtna’s Silver Band and The Union Hall and Castlehaven Parish Choir. MC for the event was Fundraising Chairperson Carmel McKenna.

The Atlantic 85 class lifeboat is one of the fastest vessels in the fleet; with a top speed is 35 knots. Designed to operate in shallower water, the B class can handle challenging open sea conditions. It is ideal for rescues close to shore, near cliffs and rocks and areas inaccessible to all-weather lifeboats. It is also capable of being beached in an emergency without sustaining damage to the engines. In addition to night vision equipment, the B class lifeboat carries a searchlight and parachute illuminating flares to light up the surrounding area, helping to keep crew members safe as well as locate those in need of help. The B class has a manually operated righting mechanism in the event of a capsize which involves inflating a bag on top of the roll bar. The engines are inversion-proofed so that they shut down should the lifeboat capsize and can be restarted after she has been righted.

The Atlantic 85 class lifeboat Christine and Raymond Fielding replaces the Atlantic 75 lifeboat, Margaret Bench of Solihull, which had been on service since 2017. Before this, the lifeboat Maritime Nation was in service from 2014. Both lifeboats came from the RNLI’s relief fleet, making the Christine and Raymond Fielding the first lifeboat to be built especially for service at Union Hall RNLI. Since the station opened in 2014 Union Hall RNLI have launched 68 times and brought 98 people to safety.

Union Hall RNLI Lifeboat Photo Gallery By Bob Bateman

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Courtmacsherry RNLI was alerted by Valentia Coast Guard on Wednesday afternoon (22 June) to two people onboard a 42ft yacht with mechanical problems 25 miles off the Old Head of Kinsale in West Cork.

Shortly after 3.30pm the all-weather lifeboat launched under coxswain Mark John Gannon and a crew of five and quickly proceeded to the yacht’s reported location, just south of the Kinsale Head gas field.

The lifeboat located the yacht at 5.30pm and a decision was made to tow and return it to the nearest safe port of Courtmacsherry.

Courtmacsherry RNLI’s crew on this callout | Credit: RNLI/CourtmacsherryCourtmacsherry RNLI’s crew on this callout | Credit: RNLI/Courtmacsherry

It emerged that the two people onboard were on passage from Kinsale to the Scilly Isles when they encountered difficulties.

After four-and-a-half hours, the lifeboat with yacht in tow arrived safely at Courtmacsherry pontoon at 10.15pm.

Philip White, Courtmacsherry RNLI deputy launching authority said: “It has been a very busy six days with four callouts and great credit is due to all the volunteer crew who drop everything when their pagers sound to help others in distress.”

The crew on this rescue were coxswain Mark John Gannon, mechanic Chris Guy and crew members Dara Gannon, Dave Philips and Pat Lawton.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Aran Islands RNLI on Inis Mór were called on to assist a local woman in need of medical attention on Wednesday evening, 22 June.

The woman was transferred safely aboard the lifeboat by the volunteer crew shortly after 6.15pm and the vessel, under coxswain John O’Donnell with a full crew, headed straight for Ros an Mhíl harbour where an ambulance was waiting.

Conditions at the time of launching were good with calm seas and clear visibility.

Speaking after the callout, O’Donnell said: “The volunteer crew responded to their pagers as soon as they went off so we were able to get the patient on her way to the hospital quickly. We would like to wish her a speedy recovery.

“As we head into the summer months, we would like to advise all beachgoers, and anyone heading to sea, to heed all safety advice and guidelines.”

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Youghal RNLI went to the aid of a sailor in difficulty 400 yards off Mangan’s Bay on Thursday afternon (23 June) after their boat suffered engine failure.

The volunteer lifeboat crew were requested to launch their Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat at 12.49pm following reports of a person onboard a broken down 7m Cobra RIB which was at anchor 400 yards off Mangan’s Bay.

Weather conditions at the time were good and calm with a southernly breeze of wind.

Arriving at the casualty’s location, the lifeboat crew observed that the man onboard was safe and well. He was wearing full personal protective equipment.

Upon further assessment of the situation, a decision was made to establish a tow and bring the boat to a trailer at the nearest safe port at Ferry Point.

Speaking after the callout, John Griffin, Youghal RNLI lifeboat operations manager said: “With the weather getting finer we would urge everyone planning to go out on their boats to make sure they are serviced at the start of the year.

“It is also essential to have a means of communication such as a VHF radio or mobile phone in the event of a difficult situation. Should you get into trouble or see someone else in difficulty, dial 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.”

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An all-weather Shannon class lifeboat for Dunmore East RNLI is to be officially named William and Agnes Wray during a ceremony at Dunmore East Lighthouse at 2pm this Sunday 26 June. 
 
The lifeboat, which went on service in September last year, is named after William and Agnes Wray from Manchester. The couple were happily married for over 60 years and had three children, all of whom have had a proud connection to the sea.

The lifeboat which is now stationed in the popular Co Waterford fishing village is the first Shannon class in the RNLI fleet to be based in the south-east of Ireland.
 
It replaces the station’s Trent class lifeboat Elizabeth and Ronald, which was on service in Dunmore East since 1996. During those 25 years, the lifeboat launched 412 times, brining 821 people to safety, 20 of whom were lives saved.
 
Speaking ahead of the naming ceremony, Eddy Stewart-Liberty, Dunmore East RNLI lifeboat management group chair said: “This is a very special occasion for our station, and we are most grateful for the legacy left to the RNLI in William and Agnes Wray’s name.

“We know the family had a strong connection to the sea and our volunteers are delighted and proud to be the custodians of this lifeboat named after the couple which will help us to continue to save lives at sea for generations to come.”

Dunmore East RNLI welcomed the new €2.4 million Shannon class lifeboat in September 2021 | Credit: Patrick BrowneDunmore East RNLI welcomed the new €2.4 million Shannon class lifeboat in September 2021 | Credit: Patrick Browne
 
William and Agnes Wray entered the water for the first time at the RNLI college in Poole in August last year where the charity’s all-weather lifeboats are built.

During the build, volunteers at Dunmore East RNLI were kept up to date on the progress. Ahead of its arrival home, the lifeboat crew had to meet a demanding training schedule as they learned how to launch and operate a new class of lifeboat.
 
The Shannon class lifeboat is the first modern all-weather lifeboat to be propelled by water jets instead of traditional propellers, making it the most agile and manoeuvrable all-weather lifeboat in the RNLI’s fleet.

And its naming of the class of lifeboat follows a tradition of naming lifeboats after rivers. When the Shannon was introduced to the RNLI fleet, it became the first time an Irish river was chosen, and it was done so to reflect the commitment and dedication of Irish lifeboat crew for generations.

Dunmore East RNLI was established in 1884. Since then, the crews have received 18 awards for gallantry.

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Union Hall RNLI has expressed its gratitude to Laura Goggin and Colin McCarthy of Bank of Ireland in Clonakilty, who both nominated the West Cork lifeboat station for their employer’s Begin Together Fund.

Bank of Ireland’s Begin Together Fund was developed to enable colleagues to support causes that matter to them by donating to vulnerable communities in the places where they live and work.

Both Laura and Colin donated their €500 to Union Hall RNLI, so €1,000 in total will now go towards crew training — a crucial aspect of any station’s lifesaving efforts.

The volunteer team at the station said they wish to thank them for becoming lifesavers and helping to power the charity’s lifesaving work in saving lives at sea and on inland waterways.

The Begin Together Fund for Colleagues is one element of Bank of Ireland’s Begin Together programme which supports charities, arts organisations, community groups and not-for-profits that have a vision for their communities.

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At 8.15pm on Monday 20 June, Carrybridge RNLI’s inshore lifeboat, Douglas Euan & Kay Richards was launched at the request of Belfast Coastguard, to assess a 35 foot cruiser which was reported by a member of the public to be on fire, in the vicinity of Tamlaght Bay.

Winds were Westerly, Force 1. Visibility was good with clear skies.

Once on scene, the lifeboat located the casualty vessel which had a well-established fire on board, and it was resting against the reed line close to the shore. No people were to be seen close to the vessel, so the volunteer Helm placed two crew members from the lifeboat ashore to carry out a land search whilst the lifeboat continued to carry out a water-based search around the location of the vessel.

The volunteer crew carrying out the shore-based search established further information from a member of the public that the owner of the burning vessel had managed to disembark from it and get onto another passing vessel. This information was relayed to the Coastguard who were trying to establish contact with the owner.

Sligo-based Coastguard rescue helicopter “Rescue 118” which had also been requested to launch and was on route to the location was then stood down.

Due to the vessel still rapidly burning, and where it was situated at the edge of a main navigation channel, the Coastguard requested for the volunteer crew of the lifeboat to remain on scene until the fire had burned itself out, to make sure it did not move from its current position and cause a further hazard to water users. The lifeboat crew monitored for other vessels moving in the vicinity and keep them at a safe distance from the burning vessel.

Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) who were in attendance, assessed the burning vessel, but due to the extent and progression of the fire they were not able to tackle the fire and they decided to allow it to burn itself out. Also, attending the scene were the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) via the shoreline.

Speaking following the call out, Stephen Scott, Lifeboat Operations Manager at Carrybridge RNLI advised all boat users: ‘‘Now we are in the summer season we would urge all boat owners to make sure you have suitable fire extinguishers on board that have been regularly serviced, and a means for calling for assistance. Thankfully in this case the owner was able to evacuate quickly from their vessel. Fires onboard can escalate rapidly, and you should have a means of evacuation from your boat if this were to happen to you.

If you have a fire onboard or any other emergency, or see someone else in similar difficulties, the number to dial is: 999 or 112 and ask for the Coastguard.’’

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Page 7 of 270

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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W M Nixon - Sailing on Saturday
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