US life ring found in Co Clare - 6,000kms from home

A US Coast Guard life ring has been found on the Clare coast thousands of kilometres where from it was lost overboard in Florida.

The life ring and attached strobe light unit were washed up near Byrnes Cove in Kilkee and spotted by the crew of the Shannon-based search and rescue helicopter.

A rescue boat crew was sent to remove the object so that it wouldn’t prove a hinderance or cause false alarms during a search that was taking place in the area at the time.

Conditions prevented Irish Coast Guard personnel from recovering the objects for several days, but they were later retrieved and taken to the local station.

After making contact with the US authorities, it transpired that the object was a US Coast Guard life-ring which was lost overboard from a United States Coast Guard (USCG) boat based in Florida. Port Canaveral is located 6,276kms from Kilkee where the items were discovered.

The life ring has US Coast Guard markings as well as the identification number 25777 while the number 25472 appears on the strobe light unit.

The expiry date on the strobe, which was attached by a rope to the life ring, was October 1, 2013, suggesting the objects were lost overboard at least two years ago.

After photos of the objects were sent the US Coast Guard, it was confirmed that the ring and strobe light were from one of its boats based at a Coast Guard station in Florida.

A spokesman for the USCG's Atlantic Area Command Centre in Norfolk, Virginia said: "It does in fact appear to be a Coast Guard life ring from one of our Response Boat Small Class 25ft from Coast Guard Station Port Canaveral in Florida."

"The device attached is a light strobe that is attached to enhance the ability to locate the life ring at night. It has had quite a trip across the Atlantic,” the spokesman said.

Last April, Kilkee Coast Guard recovered an object at Caherush Point near Quilty. That device, known as a 'Streamer Recovery Device’, is usually towed behind a vessel but in this case, became detached.

A yellow balloon attached to the device activated when it sank to a certain depth and it returned to the surface before washing ashore. The device is used to measured seismic activity, but it's not known what company had deployed the unit or where it was lost.

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