Search and Recovery

A specialised unit within GSAC has been involved in underwater Search And Recovery (SAR) operations since the early 1960s on a purely voluntary basis.

Recovery differs from the work of the RNLI and Coast Guard as our focus is on the unfortunate cases where it hasn’t been possible to rescue the missing person and it’s necessary to try to locate the body and return it to the family. All of this work is funded by voluntary contributions. It’s tough work and emotionally draining but there is a solemn pride in a successful recovery that allows the family to have closure and to mourn their lost one properly. We also occasionally find and recover other things, like anchors, engines, even the odd sunken boat.

Modern SAR involves sophisticated and expensive technology like side-scan sonar, high-power LED torches, full face masks and diver communication units. Also more everyday things like buoys, ropes and batteries that wear out and need to be replaced. Not to mention rising fuel and servicing costs for boats and compressors.

The first recorded body search by GSAC members was in the Clare River near Miltown Co. Galway, in 1964. That same year the first successful recovery occurred on Lough Corrib, near Kilbeg, when the bodies of two fishermen were taken from the lake. The technology has improved significantly from the bicycle lamps wrapped in plastic bags that were used on the first searches, but the search patterns and techniques and the basic principle of service to the community remains unchanged from the earliest days.

If you would like to make a donation to support the work of the Galway Search And Recovery Unit we’d be more than grateful.

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