Saturday 24 March 2018

Exploratory dives to examine wreckage of Rescue 116 to be held tomorrow

Reports there will be favourable weather conditions

The crew of Rescue 116: (left to right) Paul Ormsby, Mark Duffy, Dara Fitzpatrick and Ciaran Smith
The crew of Rescue 116: (left to right) Paul Ormsby, Mark Duffy, Dara Fitzpatrick and Ciaran Smith

Robin Schiller

Rescue workers are hopeful that exploratory dives can be carried out early tomorrow morning which will attempt to examine the wreckage of the Rescue 116 helicopter.

Sonar scanning was carried out over the weekend which will assist a Naval Dive Team and a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) in locating the wreckage of the Irish Coast Guard helicopter.

A signal from the aircraft's flight recorder- known as the blackbox- has been detected near the Black Rock lighthouse approximately 12km off the Mayo coast.

Speaking to, Irish Coast Guard officer Declan Geoghegan said that favourable weather conditions had been identified at 5am on Wednesday morning and that plans were being put in place to commence operations shortly thereafter.

"A window has been identified at 5am in the morning, where weather conditions are hoped to improve and swells will have gone down. More surveying will be carried out today to gather extra information, which will then be brought onto the Graunaile," Mr Geoghegan said.

"Everything will be put in place and if the weather remains favourable we will be ready to go at 6am tomorrow morning," he added.

The helicopter lost contact shortly before 1am last Tuesday morning. Three crewmen- Cpt Mark Duffy and Winchmen Ciaran Smith and Paul Ormsby- have still not been located.

An ROV, a Recompression Chamber and other specialist Naval Diving Section equipment have been transferred upon the Commissioner of Irish Lights’ ship Granuaile, which is currently based off Blacksod Bay.

It was also confirmed last night that the Air Accident Investigation Unit (AAIU) believe that the tail of Rescue 116 collided with rocks on the Black Rock island.

In a statement, investigators said that wreckage from the Irish Coast Guard helicopter had been recovered near the Black Rock lighthouse and that "marks on some of the recovered wreckage which are consistent with the tail of the aircraft contacting rocky surfaces on the Western end of Black Rock".

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