Crew of sinking trawler airlifted to safety during ‘extremely challenging’ rescue operation

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The crew are said to be in good spirits.

THE CREW OF a stricken trawler off the coast of Cork were airlifted to safety last night after the vessel began to sink in rough seas.

A complex multi-agency rescue operation had been underway since Friday after the Ellie Adhamh lost power more than 100km off Ireland’s south-west coast.

An initial attempt by a tugboat to reach the ship was called off due to severe weather conditions.

Yesterday radio equipment was dropped to the ship by an Irish Coast Guard helicopter, enabling the crew to communicate with the Irish Naval Service’s LÉ George Bernard Shaw as it attempted to establish a tow.

Later pumping equipment was also supplied as the trawler was taking on water.

Watch the above video here.

After initial attempts failed, the naval vessel started slowly towing the trawler back to Bantry Bay.

However, concerns grew last night as weather conditions continued to deteriorate, with poor visibility, fading light, six-metre-high waves and strong winds.

A decision was made to abandon ship after it began listing and taking on more water.

Life rafts were deployed but the Rescue 117 helicopter was able to airlift the seven-man crew to safety with support from Castletownbere RNLI.

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Watch the above video here.

A Defence Forces spokesperson said the tow parted from  LÉ George Bernard Shaw due to heavy sea and swell conditions soon after the winching operations were complete.

The trawler remains afloat and the naval vessel remains in the area to monitor and warn approaching traffic.

The Irish Coast Guard said the rescued crew are 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,” a statement read.

The LÉ George Bernard Shaw towing the ship to safety.

The LÉ George Bernard Shaw towing the ship to safety.

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