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Dublin: 13°C Saturday 16 October 2021

Irish ships in the Mediterranean rescued almost 9,000 migrants in 2015

Both Ireland’s maritime Defence Forces and its Coast Guard have had a year to remember.

23429653639_2800352232_o Source: David Jones/Irish Defence Forces

Updated 18.41

THE IRISH DEFENCE Forces and the national Coast Guard have both had exceptionally busy years according to official data released today.

In response to the humanitarian crisis that unfolded earlier this year, three Irish naval vessels were deployed to the Mediterranean as migrants crossing the sea in dinghies from countries like Turkey and Libya became a daily occurrence.

In total the three ships (the LÉ Eithne, the LÉ Niamh, and the LÉ Samuel Beckett) rescued 8,631 people over the course of the crisis.

23715117941_eb02549d61_k Source: Defence Forces

The ships also recovered the bodies of 39 people who perished during their crossing.

The Naval Service received the People of the Year Award in recognition of the mission in the Mediterranean.

Domestically, the Naval Service made 1,076 boardings of fishing vessels in 2015, leading to 10 detentions.

23689238802_abbb1776e7_k Source: Defence Forces

The Irish Navy’s specialist dive team  was involved in nine separate search and recovery operations at the request of either the Coast Guard or the gardaí, with six bodies being recovered and returned to their families over the course of those operations.

Coast Guard record

Ireland’s Coast Guard has been similarly busy this year with a number of rescues over the Christmas period bringing the service’s callout figures to over 1,000 for 2015.

In the 24 years since the Coast Guard’s helicopter service commenced in 1991, this is the first occasion on which that figure has been breached.

The 1,000 missions that have been completed surpasses last year’s total of 914.

landing A Coast Guard helicopter during a beach rescue at Killiney, Dublin, in October Source: John Fahy

Ireland’s Coast Guard aerial rescue service is delivered from four bases – Dublin, Shannon, Sligo and Waterford – all of which operate on a 24-hour, 365-day basis.

As of this morning the Shannon helicopter Rescue 115 has completed 330 missions this year, Dublin Rescue 116 has completed 148, Waterford Rescue 117 has completed 179, and Sligo Rescue 118 has been called on 343 missions.

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The west coast helicopters in particular have been busy this year in assisting the National Ambulance Service in transporting critically ill or injured patients from rural areas to the major trauma centres at Cork and Galway University Hospitals.

rescue Source: Rescue 115/Facebook


Over the Christmas period Shannon Rescue 115 evacuated a young pregnant woman from the island of Inish Mór off the west coast to Galway University Hospital and then remained at the hospital overnight due to fog.

Meanwhile, Sligo Rescue 118 was tasked with assisting a young boy with leg injuries who was inaccessible to the ambulance service due to flooding. In that case air extraction proved impossible and the boy was eventually transported to hospital by road.

“Our helicopter SAR crews are highly trained and dedicated to serving the people in their communities,” said Coast Guard spokesman Gerard O’Flynn.

Their professionalism and dedication, as well as high aircraft availability, allows our crews to return people home safely from an even greater number of dangerous situations.

Chris Reynolds, Director of the Irish Coast Guard, said he is thankful for the professionalism and dedication of the crews.

“I want to thank all the Coast Guard crews at Shannon, Dublin, Waterford and Sligo for their fantastic work throughout the year, moving people from places of danger to places of safety, day and night, winter and summer,” he said.

We are very proud of the service that is delivered by a very special team of men and women dedicated to saving life anywhere in Ireland and in all weathers.

First published 14.43

Read: Three men (and a dog) rescued from stormy waters by helicopter

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