Irish Coast Guard

Operator Profile

Key Facts

Current Title:
Garda Cósta na hÉireann
English Title:
Irish Coast Guard
First Established:
ICAO Code:


Narrative Summary

The Irish Marine Emergency Service (IMES) was first established on 1 January 1991, when a contract to operate one S-61N helicopter for Search and Rescue (SAR) duties came into effect. The contract was operated by Irish Helicopters and the aircraft was based at Shannon. On 1 January 1997, a new contract with Bond Helicopters came into effect, for the provision of two Shannon-based machines, one being a backup to the primary SAR aircraft.

On 29 June 1998, a second helicopter base was inaugurated at Dublin Airport, providing coverage of the east coast with a single Bond-operated S-61N. On 2nd February 2000 the IMES was renamed the Irish Coast Guard (IRCG) to better reflect its role. In the same year Bond Helicopters was renamed CHC Helicopters. In 2002 a third base was opened at Waterford in the south of the country. In 2003 the Coast Guard took over the operation of an IAC operated S-61N at Sligo, giving a more even distribution of helicopter missions.

CHC were subsequently awarded a further contract renewal to provide SAR services from July 2007 to July 2010. It is likely that a future contract will require replacement of the aging S-61Ns with a more modern design.

Key Dates

1 January 1991 Irish Marine Emergency Service (IMES) established.
1997 Service expanded to two helicopters.
2 February 2000 IMES renamed to Irish Coast Guard.
2003 Fourth helicopter base opened.

Current Status

Search and Rescue missions off the coast of Ireland are contracted out by the Department of the Marine to a civil operator on behalf of the Irish Coast Guard. The present contractor has been providing the service since 1997, initially as Bond Helicopters, but now known as CHC Helicopters.

Future Plans

Replace the S-61Ns with a more modern design, most likely the Sikorsky S-92.


National Insignia

The helicopters operate in civil markings, with civil registrations and IRISH COAST GUARD / ‘Garda Cósta na hEirann’ service titles.

Aircraft Serial Numbers

Coast Guard helicopters carry civil registrations.

Unit/Base Codes

Coding system not used


Aircraft Designations

None – Manufacturers designations used

Current Aircraft Inventory

Aircraft Type Total Del’d Total Active Still on Order Role
Sikorsky S-61N 7 7 0 SAR

All-Time Aircraft Used List

Aircraft Type Quantity Service Entry Out of Service Origin
Sikorsky S-61N 2 1991 1997 Irish
Sikorsky S-61N 7 1997 current CHC

Irish = operated by Irish Helicopters under contract.

CHC = operated by CHC Ireland under contract.

Aircraft NOT Used

False reports of aircraft on order or in service – none known.


Main Headquarters


Organisational Structure

There are normally six Sikorsky S-61N’s active: four on 24hr standby and two reserve helicopters. Two are based at Shannon Airport, two based at Waterford Airport, one at Dublin Airport and one in Sligo (this latter was formerly operated by the IAC).

Current Unit Assignments

Squadron Type Base
1 x Sikorsky S-61N Dublin-Collinstown
2 x Sikorsky S-61N Shannon
2 x Sikorsky S-61N Waterford
1 x Sikorsky S-61N Sligo

Historical Unit Assignments

Not applicable.

All-Time Flying Units List

Not applicable.

Air Bases

Current Air Bases

See current organisation, above.

All-Time Air Bases Used List

Bases used by the IMES/IRCG are: Shannon (since Jan 1991), Dublin (since June 1998), Waterford (since 2002) and Sligo (since 2003).

More Information


To be added


No articles known.


Official Irish Coast Guard webpage

wikipedia: Irish Coast Guard

Rescue Reports

CHC Helicopters

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