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Thursday 14 December 2017

Coastguard rescue three fisherman in dramatic operation off storm-beaten coast

Irish Coast Guard helicopter. Stock picture
Irish Coast Guard helicopter. Stock picture

Ralph Riegel and Ryan Nugent

Three fishermen were rescued in a dramatic operation off the Cork coast by the RNLI and Irish Coastguard when their vessel lost power and was driven onto rocks.

The 20 metre trawler fought desperately to get away from rocks off the entrance to Kinsale harbour at Moneypoint but high winds and difficult seas left the crew with no option but to issue a distress call.

Three fishermen, all understood to be Portuguese nationals, abandoned the vessel as it drifted dangerously close to a rocky outcrop shortly 6pm.

Incredibly, all three were rescued unharmed by a joint RNLI-Irish Coastguard operation.

The Irish Coastguard's Sikorsky rescue helicopter was launched in support of the operation.

The lifebThe RNLI lifeboat dropped anchor within metres of the trawler but couldn’t get close enough for the three fisherman to jump straight on.

“They had to jump into the water and then get pulled into the lifeboat. Our lifeboat had got as close as they could,” a spokeswoman said.

“They got in the water, and the lads got them out, they couldn’t swim in it, because it was just too rough. It was so rough, that our boat couldn’t get alongside theirs, otherwise it would have hit the rocks too,” she added.

The fishermen were then brought back to the Kinsale lifeboat station in the galeforce conditions and are said to be in shock, but not injured.

“They’ve lost all of their belongings and they’ve nothing. We had to have big ring around the town and lots of people have brought down clothes and shoes for them,” the spokeswoman said.

A local hotel has also provided accommodation for the three men.

Two of the three members of the highly skilled lifeboat crew, Nick Fearls and Jim Grennan were also among the heroes who rescued 30 people from historic tall ship, Astrid after it sank off the Kinsale coast in July 2013.

The other rescuer was Matthew Teehan.

Locals paid tribute to the RNLI and Irish Coastguard officials who successfully conducted the rescue operation in very difficult conditions.

The trawler drifted onto rocks and was being monitored last night. The vessel will be assessed today when sea conditions ease as to whether it can be towed to safety for repairs.

A Cork tug will be brought to the scene together with marine engineers in a bid to bring the trawler to Cork harbour for emergency repairs.

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