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Dublin: 4 °C Saturday 14 December, 2019
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Coast Guard suspends all rescue boat operations due to 'malfunctioning of lifejackets'

An investigation into the issue has been launched.

Image: Irish Coast Guard via Facebook

THE COAST GUARD has suspended all rescue boat operations and launched an investigation into a malfunction in lifejackets.

In a statement, the coast guard said for safety reasons it has “withdrawn the services of the in-shore rescue boats stationed at twenty three locations around the coast”.

It said the action was “taken following a reported malfunction of a key piece of personal protective equipment”.

In an email sent to officers in charge (OICs), seen by TheJournal.ie, the coast guard management said the issue related to “recent malfunctioning of Rescue 400 lifejackets”.

“Specifically, the 275N section of the lifejacket failed to fully function when activated.”

This section of the lifejacket is a collar that zips into the vest. It has a toggle which can be pulled to inflate it, turning the person on their back and keeping their head out of the water.

An investigation into the issue has been launched. 

“In support of the investigation, a risk assessment of this critical piece of personal protection equipment has determined that use of Rescue 400 lifejackets is to be suspended with immediate effect.”

Coast guard management said all boat operations are therefore also suspended with immediate effect. 

“Possible resolutions to this issue are being actively pursued in order to re-commence boat operations as quickly as possible.”

In its media statement, the coast guard said it is “actively managing the situation and is liaising closely with all key stakeholders and Search and Rescue (SAR) providers”.

A spokesperson said: “The coast guard is evaluating all options and is confident of a timely resolution of the matter.”

The RNLI volunteer lifeboat service has said it is unaffected by this issue and remains on call 24 hours a day.

“The type of lifejackets used by the Irish Coast Guard differ to the RNLI lifejackets used by lifeboat crew,” a spokesperson said.

The RNLI operates 46 lifeboat stations in Ireland.

- With reporting by Michelle Hennessy.

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