Doolin Coast Guard Becomes First In Ireland To Use Drone In Search

A Coast Guard unit in Co Clare has become the first in Ireland to launch a drone for an operational search, on the same day that three teams nationally were formally activated.

The Irish Coast Guard confirmed today that three newly established UAS (unmanned aerial system) teams have entered service in Doolin Co Clare, Cleggan Co Galway and Ballyglass in Mayo.

The move follows months of training which will now allow specially-trained UAS pilots deploy drone technology to enhance search operations. The drones can also be used in an observational role for by the volunteer service.

The drones can be deployed for day and night search operations and provide a live feed to the Coast Guard’s marine rescue coordination centres in Valentia, Co Kerry, Malin Head in Donegal or Dublin.

Teams have been training with a new flight-planning software which allows drones to scan large areas from above, reduce risk to search and rescue personnel, shorten search times, and ultimately save lives. The award-winning platform has been developed by Donegal-based DroneSAR.

Acting operations manager with the Irish Coast Guard, Derek Flanagan said: “The drones have a number of functions which will greatly enhance search operations as well as the safely of search team members. The DroneSAR technology we are using is the final piece of the search and rescue drone jigsaw. It allows put structure into the drone searching capability.”

The Irish Coast Guard also role in relation to the protection of the ocean and the coasts against pollution. Mr Flanagan said the drones will be very useful in this role also.

Meanwhile, the Doolin UAS team became the first to deploy their drone operationally within hours of the new teams being activated. The team used the drone to search the area around the Cliffs of Moher for a person feared missing in the area.

Gardaí have issued an appeal for the public’s assistance locating Zuhair Chowdhury (29) who was last seen in the North Clare area. He is described as being 5’8 in height, of slight build with dark hair and brown eyes. It is not known what Zuhair was last wearing.

Anyone who may have seen Zuhair or has information on her whereabouts are asked to contact Ennistymon Garda Station at 065-707 2180, the Garda Confidential Line on 1800 666 111 or any Garda Station.