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An €80m drugs bust and 100 air ambulance missions: A year in the life of the Irish Air Corps and Navy

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Irish Defence Forces

Irish Defence Forces

AW139 above the clouds on an air ambulance from Tralee hospital to Beaumont hospital

AW139 above the clouds on an air ambulance from Tralee hospital to Beaumont hospital

Little Isabella Lopez (8), Lucan pictured trying out an Air Corps Ejector Training seat at the Bray Air Show yesterday.

Little Isabella Lopez (8), Lucan pictured trying out an Air Corps Ejector Training seat at the Bray Air Show yesterday.

Eagle Section of The Irish Air Corps pictured in formation at The Bray Airshow yesterday.

Eagle Section of The Irish Air Corps pictured in formation at The Bray Airshow yesterday.

Hannah Connolly (5) who visited the Air Corps this year. They helped fly her from Donegal to Dublin the day after she was born in 2009.

Hannah Connolly (5) who visited the Air Corps this year. They helped fly her from Donegal to Dublin the day after she was born in 2009.

Image supplied by the Irish Naval Service of and the detained yacht with up to €100 million worth of cocaine, off the south west coast of Ireland LÉ Niamh

Image supplied by the Irish Naval Service of and the detained yacht with up to €100 million worth of cocaine, off the south west coast of Ireland LÉ Niamh

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Irish Defence Forces

The Air Corps and Irish Navy have released details of their many missions in 2014, including vital roles in an €80m drug seizure and more than 100 air ambulance missions.

On September 23 the Air Corps provided top cover support for a co-ordinated operation at sea that resulted in the detention by the Navy of the yacht Makaybella between 200 and 300 miles off Mizen Head.

The seizure of up to €80m of cocaine was a significant success for the Naval Service and Air Corps conducted using inter-agency personnel.

missions

During the course of the year the Air Corps has flown over 10,000 hours on more than 5,500 missions in support of the people of Ireland, and has conducted missions throughout Ireland, Europe, Africa, the Middle East and the United States.

It also completed 107 Air ambulance missions, including 64 national and 47 international transfers of patients.

And figures indicate that the Naval Service completed 912 boardings and made 10 detentions in 2014 for alleged infringements of fishing regulations during 940 patrol days.

The Naval Service patrol one million square kilometres of sea, which is over twelve times the land mass of Ireland and represents 15pc of Europe's fisheries.

Fishing vessels from Ireland, United Kingdom, France, Spain, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Lithuania, Mauritania, Belgium, Faroe Islands, Portugal and Denmark were boarded and inspected in 2014.

A total of 31 fishing boats had infringements recorded during inspections ranging from wrong boarding equipment to under-recording of catches.

The Air Corps had the privilege of welcoming back some of the VIP passengers during the year to meet with the crews who flew them when they were in need.

One such visitor was five-year-old Hannah Connolly, from Donegal, who said thank you to some of her heroes in August.

She first met with the Air Corps on November 26, 2009 when she needed urgent transport from Letterkenny to Dublin the day after her birth.

Thanks to the speedy transfer from her helicopter crew and the support from Air Corps ground staff, she got the treatment she required and has made a full recovery.

Missions such as the rapid transfers to the UK are especially important to Irish children requiring transplants. These time-critical patients are included in the UK's donor pool and so rely on the speedy transport of the Air Corps when they receive a call to the UK for a transplant.

On one of these missions to Birmingham in July the crew met with pop star Pharrell Williams who offered his thanks and support to members of the Irish Defence Forces for their efforts in helping to save lives.

rescue

The Air Corps' rotary wing were also involved with several rescues in 2014, including mountain rescue taskings from Croagh Patrick in Mayo during Reek Sunday, flood relief during the severe storms in February and an urgent request from Mine Rescue to transport rescue crews from Lisheen Mine to Tara Mines on April 5.

Last month the Navy's newest vessel, LE James Joyce, was floated out of its shipyard and is currently being out-fitted, with an expected arrival date is in the first quarter 2015.

cfeehan@herald.ie


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