2 June 2023
By Tom Collins
Castletownbere RNLI in conjunction with the Irish Coast Guard Rescue 115 helicopter crew from Shannon have rescued 13 people this evening after their 33m fishing trawler ran aground onto rocks off Dursey Island and started to list and roll.
The fishing vessel (Grand St Bernard, registered in France) subsequently re-floated and was towed to Castletownbere by a commercial tug. Upon arrival the vessel was to be drydocked to enable a detailed hull inspection.
The volunteer crew were requested to launch their all-weather lifeboat at 2.30pm this afternoon (Friday 2 June) following a report from the Irish Coast Guard that a vessel was in difficulty on the southwest corner of Dursey Island.
The lifeboat launched immediately under Coxswain Dean Hegarty and with crew members Marney O’Donoghue, Dave Fenton, Sean Bawn O’Sullivan, Carl Cronin and David O’Donovan onboard.
Weather conditions at time were good with a Force 3-4 south easterly wind and a 1-1.5m swell.
Once on scene and arriving at the same time as Rescue 115, the lifeboat crew observed that the vessel was hard aground, listing and rocking back and forth. The vessel’s crew who were on the deck and all wearing lifejackets were safe and well. However, with the trawler rolling 20-30 degrees to the right towards rocks, there were concerns that the boat may not hold. A decision was made not to attempt to pull the vessel off the rocks at that point but instead to airlift 10 of the vessel’s crew off to safety.
Following a successful winching operation, the trawler eventually came off the rocks but lost steering 100m from the shore. The lifeboat crew worked with the four remaining crew to establish a tow line. Due to the near proximity to the shore, the lifeboat crew were assisted by the crew of a local fishing boat that was in the area at the time who helped to push the casualty vessel away from the shore.
The tow was successfully set up 15-20m from the shore and the trawler was then towed out to sea by the lifeboat. The crew of Castletownbere RNLI subsequently passed the tow over to a tug on arrival.
The crew arrived safely back to the lifeboat station at approximately 6.20pm.
Speaking following the call out, Castletownbere RNLI Coxswain Dean Hegarty said: ‘This was a challenging call out given that the boat was listing and there were concerns that it might roll further. We want to thank and commend our colleagues in Rescue 115, this was a great example of joint work and co-operation. We also want to thank the vessels in the area at the time who either stood by or assisted along with the two tugs that came from Atlantic Towage and Marine. We wish the trawler’s crew well following their ordeal today.
‘As we enter the bank holiday weekend and with the beautiful weather set to last for some days yet, we would ask people to remember that even in good weather, water temperatures remain cold, so if you are taking part in any water-based activity make sure you have the proper equipment and know how to do it safely. Wear a lifejacket or suitable buoyancy aid, carry a means of communication, and keep it within reach and let someone on the shore know where you are going and when you are due back.
‘If you do get into difficulty or see someone else in trouble dial 999 or 112 and ask for the Coast Guard.’