To have a safe, sustainable maritime transport sector, and to facilitate competitive maritime transport services and safe use of the marine environment
Delivering a world class search and rescue, maritime casualty, and pollution response service.
The Coast Guard’s role is to provide maritime search and rescue, maritime casualty, and pollution response service.
The Coast Guard is a Division within the Irish Maritime Directorate (IMD) of the Department of Transport. The Irish Maritime Directorate’s mission is to have a safe, sustainable maritime sector that meets its international obligations and domestic needs, delivers a world class emergency response service, and promotes and protects Ireland’s economic interests as an island nation. The IMD is made up of five Divisions:
1. Irish Coast Guard
2. Marine Survey Office
3. Maritime Safety Policy Division
4. Maritime Strategy & Governance Division
5. Maritime Transport Division
The Coast Guards search and rescue service is carried out to meet Ireland’s obligations under the International Maritime Organisation’s Search and Rescue Convention by implementing the National SAR Plan for all incidents occurring in the maritime domain, or as otherwise requested by SAR authorities in other domains (aviation or inland). In addition to Search and Rescue the Coast Guard has a role in responding to maritime casualty and pollution response, see the National Maritime Oil/HNS Spill Contingency Plan . In relation to Maritime Pollution, there is a suite of legislation, the Sea Pollution Acts 1991-2006 under which the Minister appoints officers of the IRCG as authorised officers to enable them to carry out their duties in cases of maritime casualties to prevent or minimise damage from pollution where these casualties pose a threat of major harm to the Irish coastline and related interests. The Sea pollution Act also implements the framework for the International Convention on Oil Pollution Preparedness, Response and Co-operation (OPRC) which establishes measures for dealing with marine oil pollution incidents from maritime casualties nationally and in co-operation with other countries. The Sea Pollution Act requires a National Oil Spill Contingency plan, along with County Council and Port Authority Contingency Plans as well as a regime to facilitate the Oil Preparedness, Response and Cooperation Convention, which the Coast Guard oversees.
Additionally, the European Communities (Vessel Traffic Monitoring and Information System) Regulations 2010, give the IRCG powers to act in relation to vessels requesting Places of Refuge and monitor shipping. The Coast Guard also provides a Maritime Assistance Service to vessels in need of assistance.
Under the Framework for Major Emergency Management, the IRCG is nominated as one of the State’s Principal Emergency Services along with An Garda Síochána, the Fire Service and Ambulance Service.
To carry out the above functions the Coast Guard:
Marine Rescue Centres
Operations Section in the IRCG coordinates response to incidents through the Marine Rescue Coordination Centre and Sub Centres at MRCC Dublin, MRSC Valentia and MRSC Malin. Response on the coast is provided by Search and Rescue Units (SRUs) which include Coast Guard Helicopters, Coast Guard volunteer Units and declared resources such as the RNLI, Community Inshore Rescue Boats, the Marine Incident Response Group (Dublin Fire Brigade), the Marine Ambulance Response Team (National Ambulance Service) and vessels and aircraft in the area.
Coast Guard Unit & Support section
The Coast Guard Unit & Support section is responsible for the management, resourcing, and training of the volunteer Coast Guard Units on the coast. The volunteer Coast Guard Units provide a very important local maritime emergency response. There are 44 Coast Guard Units around the coast made up solely from the local communities. There are approximately 940 volunteers in all. Coast Guard Units provide a coastal search capability on the shore. In addition to coastal search capability some units are trained to provide a cliff rescue capability, boat rescue and support capability and also Unmanned Aerial Vehicle search capability. Coast Guard Units are also available to enhance community resilience during emergencies such during storms or situations such as COVID 19 when requested by Principal Response Agencies/Principal Emergency Services.
The IRCG Engineering and Logistics section
The Coast Guard Engineering and Logistics section is responsible for the marine radio communications infrastructure to support the Marine Rescue Centres. The section maintains 19 VHF voice and DSC radio sites situated around the Irish coastline and a national digital paging system. In addition, there are two VHF repeater test sites, four MF radio sites and two NAVTEX transmitter sites. These resources are wireline connected through to the manned control centres at Dublin, Malin Head and Valentia. Engineering section also maintains the radio and IT infrastructure for the maritime AIS system. Responsibility is also extended to the communications equipment in use by the Coast Guard volunteers around the Irish coastline. Engineering also manages the Coast Guard stores in Blanchardstown which supplies Coast Guard units with equipment and personal protective equipment, radio equipment and also stores the national stockpile of oil spill response equipment.
Safety, Quality and Compliance section
The Coast Guard Safety, Quality and Compliance section’s responsibility is to integrate all IRCG processes into a single management system, referred to as the Quality Management System (QMS). And once established, to ensure the IRCG operates in compliance with each QMS component. Doing so aids in ensuring operational consistency and provides assurance to the IRCG’s customers and stakeholders that the organisation is being managed in accordance with the IRCG’s Safety Statement, pertaining to its legislative and its system requirements.
Maritime Strategy and Governance Division
The Coast Guard is supported by Maritime Strategy and Governance Division (MSGD) within the Irish Maritime Directorate. MSGD supports corporate functions such as procurement, finance, IT, HR and administrative functions for the Coast Guard.
The Irish Coast Guard is a uniformed service comprising of 80 fulltime staff and 1,000 volunteers. It primarily provides a search and rescue service; it is not a law enforcement agency nor a military organisation.