The seven member crew of the Wexford-based fishing trawler, Ellie Adhamh, who had been stranded on their vessel approximately 70 miles west off Bantry Bay since Friday morning, were successfully airlifted onto the Irish Coast Guard rescue helicopter R117 and brought safely back to Cork late this afternoon.
The trawler had got into difficulty after it suffered a loss of power and had been drifting in what were very stormy conditions. Early this morning a Coast Guard helicopter transferred water pumps onto the vessel owing to the loss of power onboard. In addition, the LE George Bernard Shaw , which was tasked to tow the vessel, made a number of attempts to attach a tow but this was hampered by very poor weather conditions. In light of deteriorating weather conditions and concern over the stability of the trawler, it was decided to evacuate the seven person crew.
The Waterford and Shannon based Coast Guard helicopters ,who were on standby off the South West coast were re-tasked to the scene by Valentia Coast Guard, who were coordinating the operation.
'With support from the LE George Bernard Shaw and Castletownbere RNLI all weather lifeboat the crew were successfully airlifted onto R117 and brought safely to Cork. The crew are understood to be in good spirits. In light of the prevailing conditions the evacuation proved to be extremely challenging and the successful outcome is testimony to the skill and professionalism of all involved,' said a spokesperson for the Irish Coast Guard.
Meanwhile, the crew at Castletownbere RNLI were tasked yesterday afternoon to assist a local tugboat, with four people on board, which became damaged in heavy seas while on its way to assist the fishing trawler. In conditions that were described as 'challenging' with a 7-8 metre sea and 50 knot west-south winds, the lifeboat escorted the damaged tug to safety.
Commenting on the callout Castletownbere RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager Paul Stevens said, 'This has been a prolonged and complex multi-agency operation undertaken in very challenging sea conditions – the very good coordination and high level of co-operation amongst different agencies has resulted in finally getting the stricken vessel under tow. It is hoped that everything will go to plan and that the rescue will be brought to a successful conclusion this evening.'