27 March 2021
By Tom Collins
Lifeboat crew at Castletownbere RNLI were launched this afternoon at 12:30 to assist a local tugboat with four persons on board which became damaged in heavy seas off the Beara peninsula on its way to assist a fishing boat. The lifeboat was launched again this morning (Saturday 27 March 2021) at 8.30 to assist the Irish navy in towing the fishing vessel to safety
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. The lifeboat was launched within minutes at 12:30 under the command of Coxswain Dean Hegarty. At 13:50, the tug was located 17 miles southwest of Castletownbere and was making way under its own steam. Coxswain Hegarty described the on scene conditions as ‘challenging’ with 7-8 metre sea and 50 knot west-south-west winds. The lifeboat escorted the damaged tug to safety.
The rescue is being coordinated by the Coast Guard Rescue Coordination centre at Valentia who initially tasked a Coast Guard Helicopter to the scene yesterday morning. 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. 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 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 8.30 this morning. 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 are proceeding slowly and are expected to reach 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 – the very good coordination and high level of co-operation amongst different agencies has resulted in finally getting the stricken vessel under tow…”