Irish Coast Guard
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The Irish Coast Guard (IRCG) (Irish: Garda Cósta na hÉireann) is part of the Department of Transport. The Irish Search and Rescue Region, which includes most of the Republic of Ireland and parts of Northern Ireland is the area over which the coast guard has authority. This area is bounded by the UK Search and Rescue Region.
The coast guard is responsible for:
- Search and Rescue
- Marine communications network
- Marine safety awareness
- Mountain and Cave Rescue
- Pollution and Salvage response in the marine environment (the Marine Rescue Co-ordination Centre (MRCC) in Dublin coordinates all pollution & salvage control in the Irish Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).)
Note that not all Irish Coast Guards have enforcement powers - only some officers under warrant.
The Coast Guard (Garda Cósta) does not form part of the Irish Defence Forces, rather it operates as a Division of the Department of Transport under the Maritime Safety Directorate. The Maritime Safety Directorate comprises two main sections, the Maritime Safety and Marine Environment Division (MSED) and the Marine Survey Office (MSO). The Marine Survey Office also includes the Marine Radio Affairs Unit (MRAU). The Mercantile Marine Office (MMO) also works under the Directorate.
- The Maritime Safety and Marine Environment Division is responsible for maritime safety, security policy and legislation (including leisure safety), aids to navigation and corporate governance of the Commissioners of Irish Lights and marine environment protection issues.
- The Marine Survey Office deals with the inspection, survey, certification and licensing of vessels and vessels radio equipment; the examination and certification of seafarers competencies; enforcement of standards by way of audits on organisation and facilities and prosecutions for breaches of regulations.
While in some jurisdictions they are the responsibility of the Coast Guard, in Ireland, fisheries patrols are carried out by the Irish Naval Service and drug smuggling patrols by the Customs, Gardaí and the Naval Service. (However, all the above government services can at any time request assistance from each other when needed.)
The IRCG operate 6 Sikorsky S-61N helicopters. A Sikorsky S-92 helicopter was delivered to the Coastguard in January 2012. It is expected to be based at Shannon, to replace the existing S-61N there. All S-61NS will be replaced by one new S-92 and three second hand helicopters of the type that are currently based in Scotland. Pilot training is expected to begin at Shannon in February 2012, and the first public demonstration involving the helicopter is expected to take place at the 100th anniversary of the Titanic's departure from Cobh in Cork in Spring 2012. It is expected that all S-92s will be in service by 2012 or 2013.
A January 2011 announcement states that the Irish Coast Guard’s fleet will be upgraded with two new vessels over the next two years.
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- Irish Coast Guard
- Drogheda Coast Guard Unit, Co Louth
- Greenore Coast Guard Unit, Co Louth
- Clogherhead Coast Guard Unit, Co Louth
- Howth Coast Guard unit, Co Dublin
- Doolin Coast Guard unit, Co Clare
- Skerries Coast Guard unit, Co Dublin
- Crosshaven Coast Guard unit, Co Cork
- Bonmahon Coast Guard unit, Co Waterford