'Heartbroken' captain to assist inquiry into sinking of 'Astrid'
THE heartbroken captain of a 95-year-old tall ship wrecked off the Irish coast has promised to do everything in his power to assist a probe into the loss of his vessel.
Dutch father-of-three Captain Pieter de Kam said he had no idea why the engine of the 42-metre 'Astrid' failed as it was about to enter Kinsale harbour off the Cork coast.
All seven crew and 23 teenage sail trainees from around Europe were rescued from the sinking ship.
"I am heartbroken because my 'Astrid' is lost. But I am happy that everyone is safe and okay," Captain de Kam said.
"This is one of the most miserable things that can happen. I love the 'Astrid'. . . to see her come to such an end," he lamented.
The Marine Casualty Investigation Board's probe will focus on the ship's course, the condition of its diesel fuel and its engine.
The strong tides and a 30-knot wind were also instrumental in preventing the crew from saving the stricken brig.
After the engine failure, Captain de Kam ordered extra sails to be raised and issued a mayday alert.
However, the ship was about 1km from a rocky headland and was quickly driven by currents and winds on to cliffs.
The Naval Service has now placed an exclusion zone around the wreck to allow salvage experts to conduct a detailed examination.
The brig had an estimated 3.5 tonnes of diesel on board but the Irish Coast Guard said that did not pose any imminent pollution threat. Salvage experts hope to be able to pump the diesel off the wreck.
While almost totally underwater at high tide, the 'Astrid' remains largely intact after being wedged on to rocks.
However, parts of her deck and rigging have been ripped off.
The 'Astrid', built in 1918, was visiting Ireland as part of The Gathering celebration on her cruise from Southampton in the UK to Cherbourg in France.