By Dan Walsh
The 25-metre Wexford registered fishing vessel Ellie Adhamh has sunk after its seven crew members were rescued by the Irish Coast Guard when the ship lost power and had trouble off the Cork coast.
The vessel has sunk in approximately 80m of water over two miles North of the Bull Rock, at the entrance to Kenmare Bay.
Castletownbere RNLI Lifeboat received a call at 8.30am on Friday morning that the fishing vessel Ellie Adhamh suffered a loss of power approximately 70 miles West of Bantry Bay on Friday morning and has been adrift. A locally operated 33-metre tug was on route to assist the vessel when gale-force conditions with heavy seas smashed three of the tug’s windows and the crew contacted Valentia Coastguard Radio requesting immediate assistance.
At 1.50pm the tug was located 17 miles southwest of Castletownbere and was making way under its own steam. Coxswain Hegarty described the conditions at the scene as ‘challenging’ with 7-8 metre sea and 50 knot west-south-west winds. The lifeboat escorted the damaged tug to safety.
The rescue was co-ordinated by the Coast Guard Rescue Co-Ordination Centre at Valentia who initially tasked a Coast Guard Helicopter to the scene. The crew declined an offer to have some of the crew evacuated from the vessel. The Irish naval vessel, LE George Bernard Shaw, proceeded to the casualty and monitored the situation overnight.
In the 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 made a number of attempts to attach a tow but this was hampered by very poor weather conditions.
Castletownbere lifeboat was requested to assist with attaching the tow and launched at 8.30am. The lifeboat located the navy ship and the stricken vessel, with a successful tow attached, 37 miles west of the Bull Rock. The lifeboat is escorting both vessels and monitoring the tow. Given the weather conditions, all vessels proceeded slowly towards Bantry Bay later this evening.
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 – very good co-ordination and high level of co-operation amongst different agencies.”
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 LE George Bernard Shaw, Castletownbere RNLI, Coast Guard Helicopter crews, owners and their representatives.
Ellie Adhamh (WD206) was built in Spain and registered in Wexford in 2004, a 25- metre fishing vessel operated by R & E Fishing Limited (Ireland).