RNLI recovers large barge that broke free from Canada

Crew say vessel had been drifting since November and could have destroyed other boats

It took the lifeboat crew seven hours to secure it and bring it safely to Ballyglass, Co Mayo.

It took the lifeboat crew seven hours to secure it and bring it safely to Ballyglass, Co Mayo.

 

A member of the Mayo lifeboat crew that recovered a large barge that had broken free from its moorings more than 3,000km away in Canada has said the team had never come across anything like it before.

Lifeboat crew with Ballyglass RNLI were called out at 7.20pm on Monday to recover a runaway barge that had broken away from its moorings in Labrador, Newfoundland, in Canada last November.

The large floating barge was spotted and reported by a passing fishing vessel. It took the lifeboat crew seven hours to secure it and bring it safely to Ballyglass, Co Mayo.

On arriving on scene, they saw the steel barge measuring 26m by 16m which was “unsecured and floating”.

They were informed by the coastguard that the structure had broken free from its moorings in Canada, more than 3,080km away, last November before being sighted locally that evening.

The lifeboat crew established a tow and brought the barge back to Ballyglass harbour.

However, there was no room to berth it safely so it was put on the lifeboat mooring before a more permanent solution could be found. The crew were not stood down until 2am on Tuesday morning.

‘Very unusual’

Allen Murray, one of the crew, said the craft could have caused huge damage to another vessel had it come into contact with it.

“We’ve never come across anything like it before,” he said. “It was a very unusual one for us. If another boat had hit it, there wouldn’t be much left of it, put it that way.

“We had difficulty coming up alongside it. There was a 2m swell and a lot of water, so it was far from ideal conditions.”

Ballyglass RNLI lifeboat operations manager Padraic Sheeran said the team was “not expecting this type of callout at all”.

“You do hear of vessels and craft breaking free of moorings but it’s unusual to have one drift thousands of kilometres and have to be rescued by lifeboat,” he said.

“On a serious note though, it represented a major navigational danger to any vessel that it collided with and it was a relief to have it safely recovered.”