A FREIGHTER is being towed into port after the Irish Coastguard and a Cork tug raced to its aid when its engine failed in a severe storm off the south-west coast.
The 108 metre freighter, Abuk Lion, issued a mayday alert shortly after 3pm yesterday when its main engine failed.
Due to the severity of the gale off the south-west coast the freighter was unable to drop anchor and ride out the storm.
The ship, which is registered in Bermuda, was left drifting in waves of 5m plus and winds gusting to storm force nine off the west Cork coast.
The vessel was almost 35nm off Clonakilty when the crisis emerged and an Irish Coastguard helicopter sped to the scene.
RNLI lifeboats along the Cork coast remained on standby should they be required.
None of the 13 strong crew were injured and Irish Coastguard officials assessed that there was sufficient time for the Celtic Isle tug to teach the scene.
The tug steamed alongside the freighter around 1am (Monday) but, due to the high winds and difficult seas, was unable to secure a tow line until several hours later.
However, a tow line was secured once the seas had abated and the vessel is now being assisted into Cork harbour for major engine repairs.
Both the tug and freighter were heading to port at a speed of around four knots.
The freighter is expected to remain in port for several days while the repairs are completed and a full engine inspection is undertaken.
The vessel is a regular visitor to Ireland and operates regularly from Clare, Cork and Dublin ports.
The Abuk Lion left Aughinish in Clare last week and was bringing a cargo of bauxite, a mineral used in metal processing, to St Petersburg in Russia.
The Irish Coastguard’s Sikorsky helicopter returned to its Shannon base once it was established that there was no longer any threat to the freighter.
Met Eireann said that difficult sea conditions off the Irish coast are expected to significantly ease over the next 24 hours.