The Atlantic Youth Trust is seeking to raise €16 million for a new Irish sail training ship. It would replace the Republic's Asgard II, which was lost in 2008 in the Bay of Biscay, and the The Lord Rank, the Northern Irish sail training ship, which sank in 2010 after hitting rocks off the Antrim coast.
Eight young people will sail to Belfast today on board a 60-foot racing yacht the Kilcullen Voyager to launch the campaign.
The Atlantic Youth Trust, which has been working on the project for the last two years, is chaired by Lord Glentoran and the president is Enda O'Coineen.
The trust is not seeking new money from the Government, according to Mr O’Coineen, but is seeking the insurance money received by the Government for the
and the restoration – at a lower rate – of the Lottery funding that supported the project. The exchequer received around €3.8 million in an insurance payout and the lottery contributed around €900,000 a year.
"The new vessel will have twice the capacity of Asgard II, and take over 1,000 young people a year in the 15 to 18 age bracket, North and South and from the diaspora, on the ocean for adventure, challenge and personal development," said Mr O'Coineen.
Over €200,000 seed funding has come from private benefactors. Matheson have provided provided legal services and Ernst & Young have just completed a cost benefit analysis on a pro bono basis. "It builds a compelling and strong business case for the project – starting with youth and education to harness our island's maritime resources," said Mr O'Coineen.