Last post sounds for country's coastal fog horns
Published 18/10/2010 | 05:00
Fog horns around the country's coastline are to be switched off.
The signals have been part of the maritime safety network for over a century and have become part of the rich heritage of some of the country's wildest coastlines and harbours.
Next year however, the fog signal at Roches Point off Cork Harbour will be switched off, and this will shortly be followed by other fog signals around the coast.
The use of fog signals has been rendered almost obsolete by recent technological advances, ranging from Global Positioning Satellite systems to Doppler radar.
These are so efficient that mariners now rely on them, particularly when operating in fog near the coast.
Fog horns have been operated by the Commissioners of Irish Lights (CIL), who are also responsible for Ireland's lighthouses and the buoys used to mark navigation channels.
Former RTE Marine Correspondent and sailor Tom MacSweeney maintains that while the position is understandable for commercial shipping, fog horns still offer some benefits to leisure sailors and fishermen, both of whom rely on smaller craft which often have less high-tech equipment than larger commercial vessels.
"Fog can be very disorienting. The sound of a fog signal has proved a very effective safety measure," he said.
The CIL said studies revealed no safety issues arising from switching off fog signals, and stressed that each station was considered separately in a process which began 10 years ago when coastal navigation systems came under major review.