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Value for Money from the Air Corps?

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  • Value for Money from the Air Corps?

    I have read with interest the current thread regarding the garda helicopter and its associated equipment. I'm afraid I hold a pretty poor opinion of our Air Corps as an organisation. I feel that they want to be the sole agency responsible for flying any state aircraft but are not prepared to provide a first class service to the end-users involved. I must exempt from these comments the SAR crews whose bravery is beyond question and who operate 24-7.

    However the complaints of the Gardai seem to me to be very similar to those which are to be heard internally in the Naval Service. Of the number of days which Eithne was at sea how many days was a helo available? How dificult is it to get a CASA on a bank holiday weekend?

    The Naval Service has a similar establishment to the Air Corps but must crew eight ships with crew of around 45+. When you take into account logs and personnel under training and overseas it is not hard to justify these jobs. However the NS had to fight tooth and nail during the Price Waterhouse reviews to keep its manpower levels. How did the AC succeed in doing the same? How many people does the company with the coastguard contract employ? If they get their maintance done by external company then why don't the AC consider this.

    I would be particularly interested to hear hptMurphy's assesment of the performance of the Air Corps in providing a service to L.E. Eithne during his service on the ship and the attitude of AC personnel to being assigned to this duty.

    I have met many fine people from the AC but I feel that the culture of the organisation needs a serious overhaul.

  • #2
    Its a good point. Without any disrespect for the Fine staff in the Air Corps,there seems to be a flying club element among some of the pilots. I witnessed myself the GASU,that while equipped with all the tools to do the job,relied on the whim of the air corps pilot as to the availability and usefulness of their aircraft.Often a GASU member would request the heli cover a certain area,and the pilot being the aircraft commander decides he does not want to.

    Jim Brady in his fine book told of the normal routine for aircraft operating from Eithne. Paraphrasing,it involved the Dauphin leaving Baldonell after breakfast,joining Eithne in the irish sea,doing a few sorties,dinner in the wardroom,and back to the don for tea,and home in time for emmerdale.
    I imagine though that the AC,fed up with years of neglect have given up the ghost,and just do what they can to pass the day in as easy a manner as possible,so they can get their hours up to get a civvy job.
    SAR in a small heli will not get you a civvy job,landing on a moving deck in the irish sea will not get you a civvy job,Flying ministers about will get you a decent civvy job.SAR in a large Heli will get you a well paying civvy job.
    Many Coastguard pilots are former RAF sar pilots,much of the winchmen are ex air corps though.
    We would all like to think that the Air Corps do the job for the love of it,but as they are forced to live in dublin,their priorities are financial. Romantic it may sound, but those who go to sea do it for the love of it,it does not pay well as a rule.
    Pilots love to pays very well..the good ones leave for better skies as soon as they get the chance.
    The reason the AC survived price waterhouse relatively unchanged is that they are visible directly to the government regularly. If bertie was forced to travel to foreign destinations on a naval vessel I can guarantee we would be equipped with a state of the art luxury fleet. When was the last time Bertie set foot aboard a PV or even Haulbowline? I hate to say it as a blueshirt,but one of Charlie Haugheys good points was his time for the NS,culminating with him increasing the fleet with 2 Peacocks which the NS didnt even ask for..Replacements for the minesweepers had been mentioned but as the sweepers were a stopgap till the arrival of the p20s and had done their bit,replacement,while welcome,was unlikely.
    The money spent on new uniforms for the Air corps in the early 90s would have been better used in new aircraft. The NS had a similar malaise in the late 60s,when conditions were terrible,and most of ireland,apart from the Dubliners,refused to even accept that Ireland had a Naval service. It was through the hard work of its personell in the face of hardship,hilighting their role in the arrest of the Claudia,the russian factory ships,and the Marita Anne,and the tragedy of the Air india crash that has motivated the current NS to be a proud professional force doing a world class job with the bare minimum.
    If the AC had some high profile success in the same way as the NS,perhaps the pilots might actually be proud to do their job,instead of just finding a way to pass the day. Most of the major SAR operations have been carried out by the RAF or the Coastguard,Air |Corps SAR of recent times sadly being famous only for loosing Shannon to civilians,and loosing 4 crewmen to dodgy avionics in conditions it was designed to operate in.
    Its about motivation.

    Catch-22 says they have a right to do anything we can't stop them from doing.


    • #3

      I see Goldie Fish subscribes to the stereo typical view of Dublin and Dubliners.

      "We would all like to think that the Air Corps do the job for the love of it,but as they are forced to live in dublin,their priorities are financial"

      "most of ireland,apart from the Dubliners,refused to even accept that Ireland had a Naval service."

      I find myself disappointed and hurt


      • #4
        Stimpey, while I can't speak for Goldie on the idea that living in Dublin gives you a more finance-based outlook, I have to point out that you have misinterperated his his second remark. This did not refer to Dubliners but to THE Dubliners i.e. the folk group.

        At the very nadir of the fortunes of the Naval Service in the early 60's they wrote a very witty satirical song about the service. As goldie points out, this might have been the first some citizens had heard about an Irish Navy.

        Goldie, do you have a break-down of the establishment of the AC (officers, NCOs and men) and maybe somone from cloud coocoo land (the AC board) could explain to us what they all do and how many of them work after 4 o'clock weekdays and at weekends.


        • #5
          Humble pie

          thanks for clearing that up sluggie, any ideas where i can get the lyrics for the afore mentioned ditty?


          • #6
            I only know the chorus

            The Macha, the Maeve and the Cliona
            The pride of the Irish Navy
            When the captain he blows on his whistle
            We all go back home for our tea

            I can assure you that the NS is the only service where you don't get back home for your tea. And I don't think it was true in the 60's either.


            • #7
              The Irish Navy...

              The ClĂ­ona the Meabh and the Mucha
              The pride of the Irish navy
              When the captain he blows on his whistle
              All the sailors go home for their tea

              While the army is off in the Kongo
              In Cyprus or some foreign parts
              Our navy is strained to the limits
              Deploying its nautical acts
              One day from the Russian invader
              Defending our very own fish
              We found it was just the red herring
              From the signals we got from the cis'


              Each year they go on manoeuvres
              To prepare for defence they are keen
              Sometimes it's the Lakes of Killarney
              More often the pond in the green
              The canal it could be of assistance
              In defending our own holy ground
              But due to proposed legislation
              We have to sail all the way round


              We are a seafaring nation
              Defence of our land is a right
              We'd fight like the devil all morning
              Provided we're home by the night



              • #8
                It always amazed me how threads could go off the point so quickly in unimaginable directions but now I see how easily it can happen.

                let's get back to the point please!


                • #9
                  Re: MMmm

                  Originally posted by Stimpy
                  I see Goldie Fish subscribes to the stereo typical view of Dublin and Dubliners.

                  "We would all like to think that the Air Corps do the job for the love of it,but as they are forced to live in dublin,their priorities are financial"

                  "most of ireland,apart from the Dubliners,refused to even accept that Ireland had a Naval service."

                  I find myself disappointed and hurt
                  I am afraid I was grossly misunderstood here. My reference to the Residents of Dublin's Motivation being financial refers to the fact that as the Air Corps members are living in dublin,which is a quite expensive undertaking for a young professional,what with the cost of Accomodation and travel in the City. Therefor they are hard pressed to pay the bills, and extra duties away from Baldonnel,such as prolonged periods aboard ship,would not do much to ease the Financial Burden.

                  The second quote as explained by Sluggie refers to the Infamous Dubliners (Ronnie Drew & Co) which publicised the Irish Naval service for all the wrong reasons.

                  I apologise for any offence caused by this misunderstanding. We all know what wonderful people the jackeens are

                  Catch-22 says they have a right to do anything we can't stop them from doing.


                  • #10
                    "The dolphins were monkeys that didn't like the land, walked back to the water, went back from the sand."


                    • #11
                      I think as far as satisfaction goes the NS provide a much better value for money service than the AC. I do not know of any duty normally undertaken by the NS that is being contracted out to non governmental agencies,in contrast the NS are only adding to their duties,recently becoming authorised officers to board and detain drug runners,where in the past a garda presence was required. I also noticed the NS were recently involved in survey work for the dept of marine,who recently accepted delivery of their own ship for this role.
                      Naval divers assist the Garda in searches,even though the gardai have their own diving unit,NS RIBs patrol harbours during the visits of ships which may be a security risk,even though the Garda too have a boat unit specifically for this task.
                      I wonder if like the coastguard heli,do the NS have to Tender for these extra taskings,or are they just thrust upon them?
                      Like the army the NS provide ceremonial Guards for special events. I do not remember having seen the AC doing anything like this outside the gates of Baldonnel.

                      All in all even though the funding for the NS is relatively low..the client,i.e the taxpayer definitely gets good value for money.
                      Fail to prepare....prepare to FAIL!


                      • #12
                        Okay so you asked for my views....please note that it was during the early days of the heli ops scenario.

                        Just to clear up a point about Mr Brady ..I think he is a complete wanker as the last passage of his first book is nothing but a personal attack on a particular senior serving officer.The conditions in the Naval Service at the time were not unlike the conditions in any other Navy in the world at the time.It is funny in places but bemoans his own personnal failings >there were many who made the service there carreer and did not slight it on a daily basis in the news papers after there tem had finished.

                        Sorry I digress.The AC NS relationship was misconcieved and was doomed to failure as the AC crews were not allowed to operate as an integrated part of the NS.All their commands came fom their own hierarchy and the NS had very little imput. The crews were welcomed on board and were amazed at the standard of living we enjoyed.The atmos phere was very relaxed between all ranks as it is on ships as these people along with ships crews have to get along to make the job happen.
                        Tecnically the whole set up was flawed ..The ship is too small to operate a helicopter in the sea staes that prevail around the irish coast.The helo was a poor choice and the range etc was limited due to descisions made from on high.Fueling was a problem at the best of times due to previously discussed contamination problems .Service ability of the helo was poor and check times were high.As a result of the low amount of machines available,training was sporadic.Night time flying was a big no no and the fact that the ship spent most of its patrol time at 200 miles meant that the only time we met the helo was during training times.It would be fair to say that the whole concept never actually became operational.

                        There was much publicity work but as the machines were constantly in demand for other work we never used them operationally.There were too few crews deck qualified for it to work and in poor weather the whole ship thing was a night mare because the support teams ...engineers etc were often too seasick to work.It was amiserable existence for those guys and the prospect of operating at sea must have been a night mare.

                        I can't fault the guys who came out to us but they just weren't able to perform because they had been taken out of their natural envoirnment and anybody who has been to sea on a naval vessel will tell you it ain't no picnic.

                        The whole concept was a disaster and it was only through the professionalism of the crews both NS and Ac that the project was even attempted.In my opinion with hindsight it was only miraculous that an accident didn't occur.
                        Covid 19 is not over's still very real..Hand Hygiene, Social Distancing and Masks.. keep safe