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Dublin: 12 °C Sunday 26 October, 2014

Rescues and recovery: A year in the life of Ireland’s Naval Service and Air Corps

The Naval Service has made 16 detentions for infringing fishing regulations so far this year, while the Air Corps has been involved in many rescues.

FROM PATROLLING THE Irish seas to rescuing stranded people, the Irish Naval Service and Air Corps have had an extremely busy year.

They have released their latest updates on the past 12 months, giving a great insight into their work.

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Pic: Defence Forces

Maritime Security Operations

So far this year, during its 1382 patrol days the Naval Service has completed 989 boardings and made 16 detentions for alleged infringements of fishing regulations.

The service patrols 220 million maritime acres of sea, an area which is over twelve times the land mass of Ireland.

This year it detained the world’s largest fishing vessel from the Netherlands in a case that is currently before the courts.

It also boarded and inspected fishing vessels from Ireland, United Kingdom, France, Spain, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Lithuania, Belgium and Denmark.

A total of 25 fishing vessels were warned for 35 infringements. These ranged from incorrect boarding equipment to electronic reporting infringement, such as under recording of catch.

Specialist Dive Team operations

The Specialist Naval Service Dive Team has been called out to 51 operations so far this year.

It took part in military operations including underwater maintenance of Naval Service fleet, disposing of explosive ordnance as well as berth clearances for visiting foreign warships.

The Naval Service Dive Team has been involved in 14 separate search and recovery operations, and was asked to take part by the Coast Guard and An Garda Síochána. The remains of three people were recovered during these searches this year.

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Pic: Defence Forces

Training

2013 saw it continue its exchange programme with the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN). This year, the fourth group of RCN Officers embarked on Naval Service vessels, while S/Lt Shane Mulcahy was the first Irish Naval Officer to complete a course with the RCN.

He qualified as a mine clearance diving officer after a gruelling 12 month course – and was named the top student.

Other operations

In May, the LÉ Aoife rescued a Norwegian couple stranded on their yacht 120nm south west of Ireland.

This year saw the first female-to-female handover of Command on the LÉ Aoife from one female Captain to another.

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Pic: Defence Forces

Also this year, the LÉ Emer was de-commissioned after 35 years in the Naval Service.

Air Corps

Meanwhile, it was a busy year with Ambulance Missions for the Air Corps: they completed 103 Air ambulance missions, including national and international transfers of patients.

Due to the increase in demand for air ambulances, the Air Corps now has dedicated crews on stand-by 24/7 for fixed wing and rotary wing with the ability to cover a range of needs, including organ retrieval and transport of patients with spinal or other serious injuries.

Air Corps helicopter crews are the only pilots in the State capable to fly using specialist night vision goggles.

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Taking part in Flight Fest. Pic: Defence Forces

In 2013 the Air Corps continued to support the HSE National Ambulance Service (NAS) in the pilot project to provide dedicated aeromedical support to the West of Ireland.

This year the EAS answered 527 callouts from the National Aeromedical Co-ordination Centre up to 31 December – including a tasking on Christmas Day.

Search and Rescue (SAR)

The Air Corps conducted 24 SAR missions in 2013. Its missions included providing cover for the night time medical evacuation of crewman from a merchant vessel 250nm South West of Valentia on 20 October.

The Air Corps’ rotary wing were also involved with several rescues this year, including four mountain rescues.

The Air Corps deployed two helicopters to Northern Ireland on March 28 to the Co Down area to carry animal feed for some areas cut off by heavy snow.

During one of the flights, the AW139 was tasked to provide assistance to two climbers who had become stranded on a rock face and were unable to move to safety.

On November 26, the Air Corps celebrated the 50th Anniversary of helicopter operations in Ireland.

Read: Irish fishing vessel detained off Cork coast>

Read: Watch as an Irish Navy ship collides with a pontoon>

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