Ferry makes splash in port drama
Investigators probe why injured trio were aboard ship that plunged 40 feet in near tragedy
Published 08/04/2011 | 05:00
BAD luck continues to dog the attempt to transport two passenger ferries to Mauritius.
Yesterday, tragedy was narrowly averted when three men onboard one of the vessels were injured after it fell 40 feet into the Galway docks -- as it was being lifted out of the water by a crane.
The 7,000-tonne cargo ship 'Pantanal' was due to transport the ferries last week but ran aground and was damaged.
Shortly after 10am yesterday, the giant cargo ship 'Thor Gitta' attempted to lift the ferry, 'Clann na nOileain', on to its deck. The Danish-registered ship is a specialist heavy-lifting and transport vessel, with two onboard cranes.
But as the ferry was being hoisted on to the deck of the bigger ship, a cable snapped and the ferry plunged into the water below.
The ferry remained upright and the men onboard it at the time were able to remain inside the vessel, but received head and other injuries in the fall.
A number of ambulances were on the scene within minutes, along with fire tenders and gardai.
The three injured were removed from the damaged ferry. Two were placed on stretchers and taken to Galway University Hospital, while the third travelled to hospital by car. After receiving medical treatment, they were released.
Galway harbourmaster Captain Brian Sheridan confirmed that a number of investigations were under way into the incident. The Health and Safety Authority and Marine Casualty Investigation Board are conducting separate probes, while Galway Harbour Board and the gardai are also investigating.
"It could have been more serious. The weakest link was that the three lads should not have been on the ferry as it was being lifted," Capt Sheridan said.
"The vessel will be detained and no ship movements will happen until further investigations are carried out.
"I am not sure what the three men were doing on the ferry. I imagine they were part of the connecting and pulling together of straps, but of course they should have come off the ferry before the lift operation happened and I am not sure why that did not occur."
The 'Clann na nOilean' and its sister vessel, 'Clan Eagle 1', were bought by a Mauritius company following an auction and were due to be transported to their new owners later today.
The almost-new boats were built for Bad Arann Teo (trading as Aran Direct), run by Connemara businessman James Clancy, which went into receivership some months ago.
Mr Clancy had extensive property interests in Ireland and the Middle East, but his business ran into trouble when Anglo Irish Bank initiated proceedings for repayment of a loan.
A Bremen-based shipping firm dispatched a 7,000-tonne cargo ship, 'Pantanal', to Rossaveal at the end of March to transport the ferries. But it was swept on to rocks in high winds and damaged.
It has since been refloated, but has damaged its hull and will have to undergo repairs.