Major rescue operation for stricken trawler set to resume at first light

Seven crew members remain on board the Ellie Adhamh in heavy seas off Cork coast

A major rescue operation was set to resume at first light on Saturday when a Naval Service ship will attempt to get a towline to a stricken trawler, which has seven crew members aboard, in heavy seas off the Cork coast.

The Wexford-registered trawler, the Ellie Adhamh, lost power early on Friday130km off the Bull Rock in west Co Cork while returning from a prawn-fishing trip in the Porcupine Bank.

It's understood the trawler, which fishes out of Castletownbere, had lost its main communications system, but managed to radio a nearby trawler which sent out a distress signal.

The Irish Coast Guard rescue co-ordination centre on Valentia Island began a rescue operation and the Bere Island tugboat Ocean Bank, which was en route from Spain, diverted to the scene to assist.


However, 80km/h winds and heavy seas caused damage to the wheelhouse of the tugboat and it had to divert to Castletownbere, being assisted into port by Castletownbere RNLI.

On standby

A number of trawlers remained on standby at the 25m Ellie Adhamh as she faced 20ft-high waves before Irish Coast Guard helicopter Rescue 115 from Shannon arrived on the scene.

Rescue 115 offered to airlift the crew off the stricken vessel, but the trawler's captain was happy for his crew to remain on board as the Naval Service's LÉ George Bernard Shaw was also proceeding to the area to assist.

The LÉ George Bernard Shaw arrived on the scene at about 8pm on Friday, releasing a Cypriot-registered freighter, the Frio Forwin, which had remained on standby to assist after it had picked up a May Day signal.

The LÉ George Bernard Shaw established radio contact with the Ellie Adhamh and was to stay nearby overnight before attempting to get a tow aboard the stricken trawler at first light on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Valentia also tasked Irish Coast Guard helicopter Rescue 117 to assist, and the Waterford-based helicopter proceeded to Castletownbere, where it remained ready to assist.

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times