The Water Unit provides operational assistance to Garda units in serious crime investigations, high profile security searches and missing person cases where areas such as lakes, rivers, seashore, drains etc need to be searched and/or patrolled. The Garda Water Unit has its main operational base at Santry Garda Station in Dublin. The Unit personnel strength consists of five Sergeants and thirteen Gardai.
The Water Unit is on a regular basis directly responsible for the recovery of murder weapons, firearms and ammunition, stolen property and the recovering of bodies.
Such searches are usually carried out in areas of difficult terrain. The recoveries have regularly provided valuable evidence leading to a number of successful arrests and convictions.
While the Unit continues to cross-train with other units such as the Air Support Unit, Dog Unit and The Emergency Response Unit, it has also trained with a number of outside agencies. Programmes have been run with Dublin Fire Brigade, Civil Defence and the Irish Coast Guard. This type of training improves the operational skills of the team members but also provides an opportunity to further enhance the relations and spirit of co-operation in a multi agency approach to emergencies.
The Water Unit also provide a patrol service on the River Shannon. A new Boat "Colm na Córa" (The Dove of Justice) first commenced operations on the River during May 2000, performing normal patrolling functions in addition to initiating and/or supporting target specific operations.
Based initially in Athlone, but with a number of additional secure berthing points along the River being sourced, the Boat will soon be able to cover the entire waterway.
The Garda Boat has a normal crew of three, but it is certified to carry up to ten persons. Crews on the Boat consist of two members of the Water Unit and one member drawn from the local Divisions.
Built by Botnia Marine in Finland and modified to Garda requirements by Wessex Marine, UK, the boat cost just under £250,000. It is powered by twin Volvo 200hp engines, with a top speed of 32 knots, hull length 9.55M, Beam 3.15m and Draught 1.2m.