Irish Coast Guard


The Irish Coast Guard is a division of the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport. It has responsibility for the national system of marine communications, surveillance and emergency management in Ireland's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and certain inland waterways. (An EEZ is the sea zone over which a country claims exclusive rights for fishing, drilling, and other economic activities.)

It is responsible for the response to maritime accidents which involves:

  • Search and rescue
  • Counter pollution and ship casualty operations

It also has responsibility for vessel traffic monitoring.

Search and rescue

Marine rescue centres

The main roles of the Irish Coast Guard are:

  • To rescue people from danger at sea or on land
  • To organise immediate medical transport
  • To assist boats and ships within the country's jurisdiction

It has marine rescue centres in Dublin, Malin Head (Co Donegal) and Valentia Island (Co Kerry) which are responsible for coordinating search and rescue operations in their areas of responsibility. The limits of the Irish Marine Search and Rescue Region are approximately 200 miles off the west coast, 30 miles off the south coast and dividing the Irish Sea. The centres maintain a communications watch which includes a distress watch on the international VHF distress frequency.

The rescue centres also broadcast maritime safety information which contains navigation and weather warnings on VHF radio and, in some cases, MF radio in accordance with published schedules.

Coast Guard units

The Irish Coast Guard has about 50 coast guard units positioned at strategic locations around the coastline and on inland waterways. They are staffed by volunteers and are equipped to carry out search, cliff and coastal rescue.

In addition to the coast guard units, the Irish Coast Guard can also use as a resource for search and rescue:

Coast Guard helicopters

The Irish Coast Guard operates search and rescue helicopters from Dublin, Waterford, Shannon and Sligo. They respond to emergencies at sea and on inland waterways, offshore islands and mountains (32 counties).

Radio medical advice service

The Irish Coast Guard also provides a radio medical advice service. If a vessel makes a call on either VHF or MF radio, or a telephone call requiring medical advice or assistance, it is provided with a radio or telephone link to Medico Cork in Cork University Hospital or to a foreign medico centre. If the medical advice requires that the casualty be taken off the vessel, the marine rescue centre providing the link arranges for the casualty to be transported from the vessel to a hospital.

Marine pollution

The Irish Coast Guard has a role with regard to the protection of the ocean and the coasts against pollution. In the case of an imminent pollution accident, it has the right to intervene in ships operation.

The Coast Guard’s National Maritime Operations Centre based in Dublin coordinates the response to marine pollution incidents within the EEZ.

Reporting emergencies

If you want to report someone in trouble at sea or on the cliffs or coast, dial 112 or 999 and ask for the Coast Guard.

If you are in trouble at sea, call on VHF Channel 16 or MF 2182 KHz, or use VHF Digital Selective Calling (DSC).

If you want to report a marine pollution incident, contact the Dublin marine rescue centre, Tel: (01) 662 0922, Email:

Where to apply

Irish Coast Guard Headquarters

Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport

Leeson Lane
Dublin 2
D02 TR60

Tel: (01) 678 3454
Page edited: 7 November 2016