RNLI Crew Carries Out Double Rescue, Saving Tug and Fishing Vessel

Image courtesy Castletownbere RNLI

Published Mar 28, 2021 8:26 PM by The Maritime Executive

On Friday and Saturday, the crew of the Castletownbere RNLI lifeboat launched twice to assist in a complex double rescue off the coast of County Cork, Ireland. 

On Friday morning, the fishing vessel Ellie Adhamh suffered a loss of power in foul weather at a position about 70 miles west of County Cork's Beara Peninsula. A local 100-foot tugboat got under way to assist her. However, while the tug and her four-person crew were under way, heavy seas smashed three of the tug’s windows, creating a second emergency situation. 

The tug crew contacted the Valentia Coastguard station to request immediate assistance. The Castletownbere RNLI lifeboat launched within minutes, departing at 1230 under the command of coxswain Dean Hegarty. 

At 1350, the lifeboat met up with the tug some 17 miles southwest of Castletownbere and found the vessel making way under its own power. Coxswain Hegarty described the conditions as "challenging," with 25-foot seas and 50-knot winds. The lifeboat escorted the damaged tug to safety.

Second rescue

The lifeboat launched a second time on Saturday morning in order to assist the Irish Navy in towing the Ellie Adhamh, which was still adrift in foul weather.

The response effort had been under way for some time. The Irish Coast Guard dispatched a helicopter to the scene Friday morning, but the Ellie Adhamh's crew declined an offer for a hoist evacuation. The Irish naval vessel LE George Bernard Shaw rendezvoused with the fishing vessel and monitored the situation overnight. 

Early Saturday morning, an Irish Coast Guard helicopter returned to the scene to deliver water pumps to the Ellie Adhamh. In addition, the LE George Bernard Shaw made a number of attempts to rig a tow line, but this was hampered by rough weather conditions.

Castletownbere lifeboat was called out to help with the tow, and it launched at 0830 Saturday. The lifeboat crew met up with the Shaw and the stricken vessel at a position about 37 miles to the west of Bull Rock, and by the time they arrived, the Shaw's crew had already successfully rigged a tow. The vessels got under way on a slow journey back to Bantry Bay.

"This has been a prolonged and complex multi-agency operation undertaken in very challenging sea conditions – the very good coordination and high level of cooperation amongst different agencies has resulted in finally getting the stricken vessel under tow," said Castletownbere RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager Paul Stevens.