Search resumes for two young fishermen feared drowned at sea
Published 02/04/2011 | 05:00
A search resumed early this morning for two young fishermen feared drowned off the coast of north county Dublin.
A Coast Guard S-61 helicopter, lifeboats and search crews began a major sweep at 7am for the men who had been fishing for lobsters in an 18-foot dory off the port of Skerries.
Families and friends waited anxiously for news of the two missing men, who were named locally as Ronan Brown, (25) from Skerries, and David Gilson, (35), from Rush.
During a search last night debris, feared to be from the missing boat, was found.
However the EPIRB satellite distress beacon, which sends an alert when a boat goes down, had not been activated.
About 150 people anxiously kept vigil at the harbour last night.
One local fisherman described both men as "decent young lads, well known and respected".
He said Mr Brown, who had recently got married, was a deep-sea mechanic.
"He has been fishing in Lough Shinny since he was a kid. David is also a lifelong fisherman. They wouldn't have taken unnecessary risks.
"They are inshore fishermen and wouldn't have been out too far so something must have happened to the boat."
Mr Brown is understood to be married with young children.
A large-scale search was launched around teatime yesterday when the men failed to return from a fishing trip.
The pair, who normally fish off the islands in the bay, were last seen by a fellow fisherman at around 11am yesterday.
The Dublin Coast Guard's Sikorsky S-61 helicopter used it's Nitesun searchlight in the dark and infra red camera FLIR equipment was used to pick up body heat in the search.
But there was no trace of the missing fishermen and the search was called off at around 11pm.
Debris was found halfway between the Rockabill lighthouse and St Patrick's Island off the Skerries shore.
Three lifeboats from Skerries, Howth and Clougherhead were also involved in the search.
The families of the two men were being comforted by members of the local lifeboat station as they tensely waited for news of their loved ones.
A rescue team member said the search was very difficult due to strong winds, rough seas and strong spring tides. "It's pretty rough seas but if they have life-jackets on they will be found," he told the Irish Independent last night.
Met Eireann reported extremely dangerous conditions in the Irish Sea off the north county Dublin coast last night with winds of up to 60kmh and gale-force gusts of up to 88kmh.
They also had a small craft warning in operation.
The sea at this time of year is still extremely cold at only seven or eight degrees celsius.
Local residents were praying and holding out hope last night that the young men would be found safe and well.