Four fishermen rescued after trawler catches fire off Cork coast

Crew members forced to abandon vessel off Old Head of Kinsale in early hours of Friday

The Irish Coast Guard said the Maersk Maker used its powerful pumps to try and extinguish a fire on board the Horizon fishing trawler, but was unable to do so and the stricken trawler eventually sank at around 7am. Photograph: Irish Coast Guard.

The Irish Coast Guard said the Maersk Maker used its powerful pumps to try and extinguish a fire on board the Horizon fishing trawler, but was unable to do so and the stricken trawler eventually sank at around 7am. Photograph: Irish Coast Guard.

 

Four fishermen are recovering after being rescued from a liferaft having been forced to abandon their trawler after it caught fire off the Co Cork coast in the early hours of Friday.

The skipper and three crew of the trawler Horizon, which fishes out of Union Hall, had to get on to the raft when a blaze broke out on the trawler about 17 miles (27.4km) off the Old Head of Kinsale just before 2am.

The Irish Coast Guard said its Marine Rescue Co-Ordination Centre on Valentia Island was alerted by a May Day call to fire breaking out on the 17m vessel and immediately began a rescue operation.

“A full-scale Search and Rescue operation was mounted and Courtmacsherry All Weather Lifeboat and the Waterford based Coast Guard helicopter Rescue 117 were tasked to the scene,” it said in a statement.

Weather conditions were favourable at the time with light winds and a moderate sea and a number of other fishing and commercial vessels operating in the area also responded to the alarm, as did the Naval Service ship LE George Bernard Shaw.

“Shortly after the fire outbreak the crew successfully abandoned the vessel and were recovered from their liferaft by the Offshore Supply ship Pathfinder that had been operating at the Kinsale Gas field.”

Four men rescued from the Horizon trawler were transferred to the RNLI vessel Frederick Storey Cockburn, which arrived back to Courtmacsherry at around 5am on Friday. Photograph: RNLI
Four men rescued from the Horizon trawler were transferred to the RNLI vessel Frederick Storey Cockburn, which arrived back to Courtmacsherry at around 5am on Friday. Photograph: RNLI

A spokesman for Courtmacsherry RNLI said the four man crew were spotted in their orange life raft at 2.20am by crew aboard the Pathfinder, which dispatched its fast rescue boat to the scene to pick up crew members.

“It immediately took all four crew from the liferaft on board safely and while well shocked, they were all uninjured,” said the RNLI spokesman.

The men were transferred to the RNLI vessel Frederick Storey Cockburn, which arrived back to Courtmacsherry at about 5am. It is understood that the four crew men were examined by paramedics before being allowed to return home.

The Irish Coast Guard said another vessel on scene, the Maersk Maker, used its powerful pumps to try and extinguish the fire on board Horizon, but was unable to do and the stricken trawler eventually sank at about 7am.

It was the second rescue of a trawler crew off the Old Head of Kinsale in the past week and follows an incident on May 10th in which both the RNLI Frederick Storey Cockburn and the Rescue 117 helicopter played a part.

The Maria Magdalena III signalled for assistance at about 11am on Sunday after the hull was breached. Rescue 117 dropped a winchman and an emergency salvage pump on board the trawler.

The crew began pumping water from the boat in heavy seas while the RNLI Frederick Storey Cockburn remained on standby and escorted the Maria Magdalena III back to Kinsale where the vessel moored safely.