Crews of distressed tug, fishing boat rescued in rough seas off West Cork, Ireland

Photo: RNLI

Lifeboat crew at the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) station at Castletownbere, County Cork, were launched to assist the crew of a local tug that became damaged in heavy seas off the Beara peninsula on its way to assist a fishing boat on Friday, March 26.

The fishing vessel Ellie Adhamh suffered a loss of power approximately 110 kilometres west of Bantry Bay on Friday morning and had gone adrift.

A locally-operated 33-metre tug was en route to assist the fishing vessel when gale-force conditions with heavy seas smashed three of the tug’s windows. The tug crew then contacted Valentia Coastguard Radio requesting immediate assistance.

The RNLI lifeboat was launched within minutes at 12:30 (local time). At 13:50, the tug was located 27 kilometres southwest of Castletownbere and was making way under its own steam.

RNLI coxswain Dean Hegarty described the on-scene conditions as “challenging” with seven- to eight-metre seas and 50-knot west-south-west winds.

The lifeboat then escorted the damaged tug to safety.

The rescue was coordinated by the Coast Guard Rescue Coordination centre at Valentia, which initially tasked a coast guard helicopter to the scene on Friday morning. The fishing boat crew declined an offer to be evacuated from their vessel.

The Irish Naval Service patrol vessel LÉ George Bernard Shaw proceeded to the area and monitored the situation overnight.

Early on the morning of Saturday, March 27, a coast guard helicopter transferred water pumps onto the fishing vessel owing to the loss of power onboard. In addition, George Bernard Shaw made a number of attempts to attach a tow, but this was hampered by very poor weather conditions.

The Castletownbere lifeboat was requested to assist with attaching the tow and launched at 08:30 on Saturday. The lifeboat located the navy ship and the stricken vessel, with a successful tow attached, 59 kilometres west of the Bull Rock.

The lifeboat then escorted both vessels and monitored the tow. Because of the weather conditions, all vessels proceeded slowly and reached Bantry Bay in the late evening of Saturday.

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