Trawler at centre of major rescue operation sinks hours after crew winched to safety

All crew from Ellie Adhamh recovering after battling eight metre high swells off West Cork coast

A trawler at the centre of a major rescue operation has sunk hours after her crew were winched to safety by an Irish Coast Guard helicopter in stormy seas off the West Cork coast.

The 25 metre Ellie Adhamh, which was abandoned by her skipper and crew at around 7pm on Saturday when they were airlifted to safety by Rescue 117, sank around midday today (Sunday).

The boat, which was built in 2004 and registered in Wexford, sank in approximately 80 metres of water, just over two miles north of the Bull Rock at the entrance to Kenmare Bay.

The owners of the Ellie Adhamh had hired a local tug, the Nomad and she was on scene all morning evaluating options regarding how to tow the vessel to a place of safety after a night adrift unmanned.


A second local tug was also proceeding to the scene to assist but it was evident from early morning that the vessel’s condition was deteriorating as she continued to take on board water in heavy seas.

According to the Irish Coast Guard Marine Rescue Co-Ordination Centre at Valentia, Force 7 winds nearing Gale Force at 28-33 knots were throwing up seven metres swells which swamped the boat.


An Irish Coast Guard spokesperson expressed relief that all seven crew were evacuated safely in extremely difficult conditions on Saturday evening and there was no loss of life.

And they acknowledged the professionalism of all involved, including the LÉ George Bernard Shaw, Castletownbere RNLI, Coast Guard Helicopter crews, the owners and their representatives.

The crew, comprising Irish, Polish and Egyptian fishermen, were all brought by Rescue 117 to Cork Airport on Saturday where they were assessed by HSE paramedics.

It’s understood that one crew member was taken to Cork University Hospital for medical treatment following the ordeal, which began when the Ellie Adhamh lost power early on Friday morning.

The Defence Forces confirmed that the LÉ George Bernard Shaw was released from the operation late on Saturday night and returned to Maritime Defence and Security Operations.

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times