The fourth and final Sikorsky S92 helicopeter has joined the Irish Coast Guard and completes the upgrading of the fleet to one of the most modern worldwide.
Speaking at the launch, Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Leo Varadkar, said the S92 was tailored specially for search and rescue operations and has an extended range of 270 nautical miles.
“It is also faster, safer can carry more casualties and can fly at higher altitude and in much worse weather,” he added.
Launch of S92 at Dublin Coast Guard base
The S92 fleet also allows the Coast Guard to exand its role to providing emergency medical transport for the HSE.
In 2013, the Coast Guard responded to 2,627 incidents involving fishing craft, leisure vessels and mountaineers. They also performed 253 aeromedical missions and 159 offshore island medical evacuations.
Minister Varadkar availed of the occasion to pay tribute to the helicopter crews “who work tirelessly to rescue lives all year round, and the hundreds of volunteers on Coast Guard and RNLI vessels, mountain and cave rescue teams”.
Coast Guard Director Chris Reynolds said that while it has been an “exceptional year” for the number of incidents, “there has been significant progress in terms of modernising and further developing the Coast Guard”.
Funding allocation of €67.9m in 2014 for the four Coast Guard bases in Dublin, Shannon, Sligo and Waterford in 2014 is the highest ever “to finance the provision of critical search and rescue services”, Minister Varadkar said.