Bere Island's best tug goes the distance – all 1,200 miles of it!

September 10th, 2019 11:30 AM

By Southern Star Team

The ‘Ocean Challenger' and ‘Ocean Bank' manoeuvre the 145m cargo ship ‘Onega Rio' safely past Roancarraig Lighthouse off Bere Island. (Photo: Niall Duffy)

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A BERE Island-based tug company has rescued a powerless cargo ship and its crew who were stranded mid-Atlantic, in a 1,200-mile round trip.

The Onego Rio, a  Dutch registered 142m cargo ship had left Panama City in Florida on August 4th, bound for Rosyth, Scotland. 

Approximately 600 nautical miles off the Irish coast, the ship lost power and requested assistance after it began to drift. 

Atlantic Towage and Marine, based on Bere Island, and run by Sean Harrington, were tasked to assist the ship and tow her to safety to assess the damage and allow repairs to be carried out.  

Sean deployed the 5,000hp tug Ocean Challenger, the largest tug in his company’s fleet, and the only tug based in Ireland that could carry out such an operation, along with a crew of six. 

‘It took us just over three days to head out, and then five days to tow the ship back,’ he said, adding that it was the longest distance they had undertaken a tow. 

Atlantic Towage and Marine deployed a second tug, the Ocean Bank as the Onego Rio made her final approach into Berehaven on Saturday, August 24th. 

An Irish Coast Guard helicopter monitored the operation as the ship was anchored off Bere Island. The Ocean Bank will remain anchored alongside the Onego Rio for the duration of her stay.  

Derry O’Donovan of Castletownbere Marine, who are acting as agents for the Ongeo Rio, said he expects the ship will remain in Berehaven for up to three days while repairs are carried out. 

 Atlantic Towage and Marine was formed in 2008 and since then has undertaken a number of high profile towing and salvage  operations which have included in 2016 towing a Boeing 767 jet on a barge from Limerick to Sligo, and recovery operations for the tall ship Astrid which sank off Kinsale in 2013 and the ocean-going racing yacht Rambler 100 which was lost off the Fastnet in 2011. 

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