'Failure of engine led to sinking of astrid'
A CRITICAL engine failure led to the sinking of the tallship Astrid off the Cork coast, an interim investigation report has found.
The 42m Astrid, a 95-year-old Dutch-owned sail training brig, ran aground in July last year, just minutes before it was to lead a parade of sail into Kinsale harbour from nearby Oysterhaven. It ran onto rocks in strong tides and currents, with nearby boats unable to pull her clear.
Thirty trainee sailors, two of them from County Wexford, and crew escaped injury, in rescue operations mounted by the RNLI and Irish Coastguard.
After the ship's engine failed, strong tides and winds gusting to 30 knots drove the Astrid onto the rocks despite the efforts of her skipper, Pieter de Kam, and his Belgian crew to get the ship to safety.
The Department of Transport's Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) published their interim report into the incident last week, stressing that further report publications will only be made after 'natural justice procedures' conclude.
The MCIB report found: 'While hauling sails the engine was still being used and the ship proceeded in a south west direction at a speed of approximately three knots.
'At approximately 11.40 a.m. (July 24) the engine failed and the ship was unable to sail out of the situation that grounded the Astrid on the coast 0.7 nautical miles north west of the Big Sovereign.'
The MCIB said it was now liaising with Dutch marine authorities over the ongoing investigation.
Daragh Comisky, pictured above, from Barntown, was among a group of more than 20 young people from across Britain, Ireland and Europe on board the Astrid when it ran aground. Lifeboats scrambled from across Co Cork arrived within 30 minutes to help rescue the young trainees and the other more experienced crew. Two Irish Coastguard helicopters were also deployed to the scene in response to the mayday call.
'It was very rough when we hit the rocks,' Daragh told this newspaper following his rescue.
'There were a few attempts to get the ship back off them but that wasn't going to work. I only realised the ship was in real trouble when the life jackets started getting handed out,' he said.