Leading Journal of the Irish & UK Fishing Industries

In 2023, the Irish Coast Guard coordinated responses to 2,788 incidents which is the second highest number in 5 years (2,976 in 2021). August was the busiest month with a total of 391 incidents. The incident count covers the range of services provided by the Coast Guard. Services include search and rescue, maritime casualty support and pollution preparedness and response.

The year in figures

  • August was the busiest month in 2023.

  • The 44 Coast Guard Units were mobilised on 1,278 separate occasions.

  • Coast Guard Helicopters conducted 796 missions.

  • Royal National Lifeboat Institution lifeboats were tasked on 850 occasion

  • Community inshore rescue service boats were tasked on 76 occasions.

  • Critical assistance was provided to 665 people.

  • CG helicopters conducted 174 air ambulance flights in support of the offshore island communities

IRCG also provides air ambulance services to the HSE including day and night aeromedical services to the offshore islands, assists An Garda Síochána with missing person searches, including inland and mountain rescue, as well as provision of other support to the Emergency Services.

Critical assistance was provided to a total of 665 people. This number reflects interventions that prevented loss of life or serious injury, and emergency transfers to hospitals, including offshore, coastal, and inland incidents and offshore island aero medical support.

Following Government approval, a contract for provision of a new Coast Guard aviation contract was signed in August 2023. The contract provides for retention of day and night SAR helicopter services, located at Sligo, Shannon, Waterford, and Dublin. The contract also provides for the provision of a day and night Fixed Wing service located at Shannon.

The Fixed Wing service will enhance the Coast Guard’s Search and Rescue and environmental monitoring capability. The helicopter service will be delivered by a fleet of six AW189 helicopters. The first such helicopter is scheduled to enter service in Shannon in late 2024, to be followed by Sligo, Waterford and Dublin in the first six months of 2025.

Minister of State with special responsibility for the Irish Coast Guard, Jack Chambers, TD, said: “As we reach the end of another busy year for the Coast Guard, I want to thank all the IRCG volunteers and staff for their professionalism and commitment. I want to particularly recognise the work of the Watch Officers at Rescue Coordination Centres in Malin, Valentia and MRCC Dublin.

“During the year I had the opportunity to visit several Volunteer Coast Guard Units around the country that enabled me to recognise the services they provide to their communities and view firsthand the various challenges that they encounter.

“The opening of the volunteer Coast Guard station in Bonmahon, Co. Waterford was a particular highlight and I am committed to delivering a series of other similar developments commencing with Westport and Greystones.”

The capacity to Raise the Alarm and Stay Afloat, are central to the prevention of drownings at sea, along the coast and on inland waterways. The Coast Guard’s core safety message Stay Afloat – Stay in Touc highlights the importance of never engaging in any commercial or recreational boating activity without wearing a life jacket or Personal Flotation Device (PFD), coupled with a capacity to raise the alarm via means such as a VHF radio, Personal Locator Beacon or EPIRB.

A recent incident in Donegal where four fishermen were rescued highlighted the value of wearing a PLB, because it proved to be the only means of raising the alarm, thus enabling the Coast Guard to mount a successful search and rescue mission.

Any maritime or coastal activity should be supported by informing shore-based colleagues of intended activity and anticipated return time. Mobile phones should not be considered as a suitable substitute or be relied upon as the only means of emergency communication at sea.

The Coast Guard looks forward to launching a Safety on the Water App in 2024 as an element of gov.ie – Safety on the water which will provide members of the public with immediate access to water safety information for planning coastal and water-based activities. This app will be launched under the slogan of ‘Think Water Safety – Plan and Prepare’.

The Coast Guard wishes everybody a Happy and Safe New Year and thanks the public for their ongoing support and cooperation.

Public safety messaging continues to be promoted via the www.safetyonthewater.gov.ie website.

If you see somebody in trouble on the water or along the coast,

or think they are in trouble,

use marine VHF Ch 16 or dial 112 and ask for the Coast Guard.