Update: Fishing trawler sinks off southwest coast


Sunday, 1.30pm – The Irish Coast Guard has confirmed that the casualty vessel has sunk off the southwest coast.

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The Aille Ádhamh’s seven crew members were airlifted from the vessel late yesterday by two Irish Coast Guard helicopters.

However, the vessel later sank in about 80 metres (262 feet) of water over two miles North of the Bull Rock, at the entrance to Kenmare Bay.

Watch officers at the Irish Coast Guard’s marine rescue sub centre on Valentia Island in Kerry monitored the trawler overnight as it drifted in a northerly direction.

A local tug, hired by the owners, was on scene all morning evaluating options to tow the vessel to a place of safety. A second local tug was also proceeding to the scene but it was evident from early morning that the vessels condition was deteriorating.

A Coast Guard spokesperson expressed relief that there was no loss of life and acknowledged the professionalism of all who had been involved in the operation, including Naval Service ship LÉ George Bernard Shaw, Castletownbere RNLI, Coast Guard Helicopter crews, owners and their representatives.

Rescue 115 made four trips to the casualty vessel – Image: Clare Herald

Saturday, 3.45pm – Rescue 115 is routing to rendezvous with the casualty vessel for a fourth time. It’s expected that crew members will be evacuated from the vessel on this occasion.

Saturday, 12.25pm –  The vessel has since been taken under tow by the Irish Naval Service while Rescue 115 returned to the scene this morning for the third time.

According to the Irish Coast Guard: “The situation was monitored overnight by Valentia with the LE George Bernard Shaw on scene from 9pm last night. Weather conditions overnight were challenging but the crew are reported to be in good spirits.

The Castletownbere RNLI Lifeboat was also alerted and is monitoring the tow. A Coast Guard helicopter also transferred water pumps onto the vessel owing to the loss of power on the vessel.”

The spokesman said: The tow is proceeding satisfactorily and is expected to reach Bantry Bay later this evening where arrangements will be made to have the vessel taken into port.

Friday, 7.05pm – Rescue 115 has now returned to base after making two trips to the casualty vessel.

The Irish Naval vessel LÉ George Bernard Shaw is due to reach the scene later tonight. If conditions permit, the Naval ship will attempt to tow the trawler back to port.

The Shannon-based Irish Coast Guard helicopter is currently involved in a long-range operation to assist the crew of a fishing trawler which has suffered engine failure off the Irish coast.

The crew of the 25m (82ft) Aille Ádhamh reported a total loss of power and communications. It’s understood they were able to alerted another trawler using a handheld radio.

Rescue 115 was dispatched to the scene 70 nautical miles/130 kilometres off the Kerry coast shortly after 1.00pm today. The scene is 125 nautical miles/231 kilometres south west of Shannon Airport. Because of strong headwinds, it took the helicopter crew about 90 minutes to reach the scene.

It’s also understood that the crew had declined an offer to be airlifted from the vessel despite a helicopter travelling to the scene on two occasions.

The trawler’s skipper raised the alarm early this morning, advising the Irish Coast Guard that all attempts to restart the engine had been unsuccessful and that they were drifting without power. Several other trawlers that were in the area are also understood to have offered assistance.

A tug had been sent from Castletownbere but was forced to return to port after being struck by a freak wave and sustaining damage to its wheelhouse.

The Irish Naval vessel LÉ George Bernard Shaw is now on its way to meet the trawler.

Rescue 115 has already flown from the vessel to Castletownbere and has returned to the scene for a second time. It’s understood the ship’s crew have opted to remain on board while the option to airlift them to safety was available.

It’s thought that the trawler, which is based in West Cork, has a crew of seven on board.

If the vessel’s engine can’t be restarted, a specialist tug will have been sent to tow the trawler to safety.

The operation is being coordinated by watch officers at the Irish Coast Guard’s marine rescue sub centre on Valentia Island in Kerry.

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