Chris tells us about his role as a Watch Officer and how entering the Irish Coast Guard was a good opportunity to make use of his background/seagoing experience and bringing it ashore.
Please tell us a little bit about your role as a Watch Officer.
A Watch Officer with the Irish Coast Guard is part of a team that staff one of three Marine Rescue Coordination Centres in Ireland. The Watch Officer role covers a range of everyday duties from promulgating the Sea Area Forecast, Radio Navigation Warnings & the Lakes forecast as well as receiving/logging Traffic Reports from vessels transiting the Irish Coast. The other main duties of the Watch Officer is to provide a Marine Distress listening watch on Marine Radio Frequencies and by using the information gathered to coordinate the required Search and Rescue response using Coast Guard assets, i.e. Coast Guard Teams (Search, Boat, Cliff & Drone) & Helicopters, as well as Declared Assets such as the RNLI, Community Inshore Rescue Boats, or other State Resources and vessels of opportunity.
What were your reasons for applying for your role?
I have worked at sea as a merchant navy officer since leaving school and after more than thirty years I started to look for shore-based employment in Ireland and did not want to completely leave the maritime industry.Entering the Irish Coast Guard was a good opportunity to make use of my background/seagoing experience.
What do you value most about you job?
The teamwork and job satisfaction of working in an often-stressful environment along with a good work/home balance & being involved in saving lives or assisting people in distress is hugely rewarding.
What are some of the benefits and supports available to you?
There is a great working environment with a strong sense of teamwork combined with job satisfaction and a good home/work balance. The Department of Transport offers a wide range of support and advice to all employees including opportunities to pursue further education and training.
What opportunities has this role provided for you?
As part of the Watch Officer entrants training a trainee Watch Officer will complete a SAR Mission Coordinator (SMC) course in the National Maritime College of Ireland leading to a recognised Level 7 Special Purpose Award. Once in the Irish Coast Guard for two years it is possible to avail of further educational training such as degree courses. My basic training programme is also QQI recognised.
What has surprised you since starting this role?
Before starting this role, I was not aware of the commitment in both time and dedication that the volunteers of the Irish Coat Guard have towards providing such a professional and excellent service towards the safety of our coasts.
What aspect of the role do you particularly enjoy?
There is a strong emphasis on teamwork in the Operations Room during ongoing incidents or routine operations, and strong feeling of satisfaction with the conclusion of a well planned and executed response to an incident.
Would you recommend a career in the public sector and why?
The public sector offers a lot to its employees from good working conditions, further educational training, being part of a large team and job satisfaction.
Would you recommend a career in the IRCG? Why?
I would recommend a career in the Irish Coast Guard. As a Watch Officer you can expect to work in a dynamic role which offers job satisfaction with a strong emphasis on teamwork and encourages initiative to consistently improve the overall performance of the Operations Room.
Anything else you would like to share?
After the completion of my training, I was assigned to MRSC Malin Head, where I gained a great insight into Coast Guard operations in the Galway to Donegal coastal and offshore areas. I have since been successful in securing a transfer to MRCC Dublin, as it was always my preference to work in the Dublin area.