16-Jan-2014 Source: Dept of Transport
2013 was one of the busiest on record for the Coast Guard with 33% more incidents than the previous year, partly due to the good weather. The helicopter fleet, along with Coast Guard volunteer crews saw a huge increase in workload with 2,627 incidents during the year.
There were a total of 808 helicopter missions with the two west coast bases at Sligo and Shannon experiencing the busiest year on record. The Shannon base in particular flew a remarkable 290 missions. In total, there were 250 aero medical missions and 159 offshore island medical evacuations (Medivacs). The number of fishing vessel incidents increased by 20% (215 in total).
Many of the operations, involving either helicopters or Coast Guard volunteer crews, were for leisure activities due to the prolonged period of good weather. Inland waters were extremely busy with an increase of 70% in activity. Incidents involving powered and sailing craft also showed a notable increase of (20%).
The Coast Guard is particularly concerned by the number of incidents involving Jet-Skis, 26 incidents occurring throughout in 2013. The Jet-Ski incidents were concentrated in leisure areas like beaches where there is a danger of serious injury to families and small children.
This issue will be addressed by the Maritime Registration Bill which will require Jet-Ski owners to register and mark their vehicles, and will make it easier to prosecute offending Jet-Ski users and enforce safety standards.