Inshore Rescue Boat an Important Tool in SAR Ops

Article / July 23, 2014

By: Jamie Cook, MARPAC/JTFP Public Affairs

With the summer season entering full swing, more recreational mariners will be exposed to the dangers and hazards of yachting, sailing, paddling or boating on British Columbia’s ocean waters. In anticipation, joint-efforts like the Inshore Rescue Boat (IRB) service are in place to ensure the continued success of maritime search and rescue (SAR) operations in the Victoria Search and Rescue Region (SRR), keeping Canadians safe at sea.

Established in the 1970s by the Canadian Coast Guard (CCG), the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) has recently become a partner with the CCG in providing crew members for the program. The service positions rapid response IRB units at four strategic locations of high recreational traffic throughout the Victoria SRR, which encompasses over 700,000 square kilometres of Pacific Ocean. In these more isolated locations, accidents, equipment failures or medical emergencies can quickly put mariners’ lives in grave danger.

Nootka Island, Telegraph Cove, Cortes Island and Vancouver Harbour make up the four IRB stations in the Victoria SRR. Each station is equipped with a Zodiac Hurricane Technologies 733 or 753 Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat (RHIB), a twin-engine, seven-metre fast rescue craft and an important piece of equipment in the SAR toolkit.

IRB units are crewed by RCN members and University summer students as crew personnel with a Coast Guard Rescue Specialist as the station’s coxswain. Currently, the Victoria SRR’s IRB crews consist of 8 Coast Guard coxswains, 6 RCN crew members and 10 summer students.

Having recently completed intensive training on June 10th, this summer’s IRB crews are now providing SAR services in the Victoria SRR.  These services include search and rescue, first aid and marine medevac, as well as assistance to disabled vessels.  They operate 24 hours a day in all types of weather and conditions. During the 2013 summer season, IRB units responded to over 200 separate SAR incidents across the Victoria SRR, a testament to the valuable service they provide.

In addition to the emergency SAR assistance IRB units provide, the service also strengthens the partnership and interoperability between the RCN and the CCG. With an average of 3,000 emergency incidents occurring every year in the Victoria SRR, successful maritime SAR operations depend upon this partnership to ensure Canadians remain safe and secure while at sea.

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