Wednesday 22 November 2017

'Poignant and challenging day' - coastguard extends support to families of Rescue 116 crew as Captain Mark Duffy is recovered

  • Underwater robot operated throughout the night
  • Naval service dive team deployed this morning
  • Gardaí positively identify body as Captain Mark Duffy
Rescue 116 crew member Mark Duffy was recovered on Sunday
Rescue 116 crew member Mark Duffy was recovered on Sunday
Captain Mark Duffy (inset) has been recovered from tragic helicopter
Guard of honour for Captain Mark Duffy in Mayo (Picture: Keith Heneghan)
Guard of honour for Captain Mark Duffy in Mayo (Picture: Keith Heneghan)
Guard of honour for Captain Mark Duffy in Mayo (Picture: Keith Heneghan)
Capt Mark Duffy Photo: Tom Conachy
A Coast Guard boat searches the coastline around Blacksod Picture: Collins
Members of the Irish Coast Guard at Blacksod Pier as the search continues for Rescue 116 along Blacksod coastline in Co Mayo. Pic Steve Humphreys 25th March 2017
Keeping a vigil: A member of the Irish Coast Guard looks out towards a misty Achill as the search continues for Rescue 116 along the Blacksod coastline in Co Mayo Photo: Steve Humphreys
The Garda Sub Aqua Unit leave Blacksod Co Mayo to continue in the search for Rescue 116 and its crew. Pic Steve Humphreys 25th March 2017
The Garda Sub Aqua Unit leave Blacksod Pier to continue in the search for Rescue 116 and its crew. Pic Steve Humphreys 25th March 2017
Members of the Irish Coast Guard at Blacksod Pier as the search continues for Rescue 116 along Blacksod coastline in Co Mayo. Pic Steve Humphreys 25th March 2017
The Garda Sub Aqua Unit at Blacksod Pier as they continue in the search for Rescue 116 and its crew. Pic Steve Humphreys 25th March 2017
A member of the Irish Coast Guard looks out towards Blackrock Lighthouse Photo: Steve Humphreys
The Irish Coast Guard land at Blacksod Pier as the search continues for Rescue 116 along Blacksod coastline in Co Mayo Picture: Steve Humphreys
Family members arrive at Blacksod Pier Photo: Steve Humphreys
An Irish Coast GuardHelicopter lifts off from Blacksod Pier next door to the house where family members of the missing crew are watching from as the search continues for Rescue 116 along Blacksod coastline in Co Mayo. Pic Steve Humphreys 25th March 2017

Robin Schiller

Gardai have positively identified the recovered Rescue 116 crew member as Captain Mark Duffy.

Rescue workers recovered the crew member from within the wreckage of the Rescue 116 helicopter.

"The body that was recovered this morning has been positively identified as Capt Mark Duffy from Rescue 116," garda superintendent Tony Healy said.

"The body has now been removed to Mayo Hospital, a post-mortem will be conducted by the State Pathologist tomorrow.

Guard of honour for Captain Mark Duffy in Mayo (Picture: Keith Heneghan)
Guard of honour for Captain Mark Duffy in Mayo (Picture: Keith Heneghan)
Capt Mark Duffy Photo: Tom Conachy

"The next phase is the continuation of the underwater, land and air search. It's progressing very well and the garda divers are expected to carry out a dive this evening."

The Coast Guard on-scene Michael O'Toole has said the recovery of Capt Mark Duffy marked a “poignant and challenging day” for the community.

Captain Mark Duffy who remains missing off the Mayo coast.
Captain Mark Duffy who remains missing off the Mayo coast.

"Today's a particularly poignant day for us in the Coast Guard. We've recovered our colleague Capt Mark Duffy,” he said.

“Our thoughts are with his family. Equally the Coast Guard family are very cognisant that we're still missing our two other colleagues and we maintain a focus on that and our thoughts are with them and Mark Duffy's family today.

“It's extremely poignant and challenging day for the Coast Guard community and it even brings to mind Dara Fitzpatrick's family today and the wider CHC colleagues and communities.

“From that perspective, today is a particularly poignant day for us in the Irish Coast Guard.”

A member of the Irish Coast Guard looks out towards Blackrock Lighthouse Photo: Steve Humphreys
A member of the Irish Coast Guard looks out towards Blackrock Lighthouse Photo: Steve Humphreys

Mr O’Toole also acknowledged the efforts of all of the agencies involved in the rescue operation.

 “The Irish Coast Guard are obviously coordinating but we would not be able to function without Garda Siochana, Naval Service Colleagues, Air Accident Investigation Unit, Civil Defence and the wider array of agencies that have supported us."

"It's difficult to prepare for these things but I think the Coast Guard community in Galway and Mayo and other volunteers who attended today have acquitted themselves quite well in the dignity which they showed out dearest colleague Capt Mark Duffy.

"The Shannon helicopter rescue 115 was conducting the search here in the vicinity so that air assets has been with us.

An Irish Coast GuardHelicopter lifts off from Blacksod Pier next door to the house where family members of the missing crew are watching from as the search continues for Rescue 116 along Blacksod coastline in Co Mayo.
Pic Steve Humphreys
25th March 2017
An Irish Coast GuardHelicopter lifts off from Blacksod Pier next door to the house where family members of the missing crew are watching from as the search continues for Rescue 116 along Blacksod coastline in Co Mayo. Pic Steve Humphreys 25th March 2017

A second helicopter, the Sligo SAR helicopter rescue 118, was called into action in Co Donegal today and was diverted from the search.

“It goes to show the evidence that the day job does persist and go on. [It is] quite a marked day for the crew of Rescue 115 who happened to be on the scene here for the recovery of Capt Mark Duffy,” Mr O’Toole said.

The Irish Coast Guard land at Blacksod Pier as the search continues for Rescue 116 along Blacksod coastline in Co Mayo Picture: Steve Humphreys
The Irish Coast Guard land at Blacksod Pier as the search continues for Rescue 116 along Blacksod coastline in Co Mayo Picture: Steve Humphreys

"We have been working very closely with the Garda family liaison officer who has been a magnificent support in all of this.

“That has been our main access point to the families, we've provided them with any service and support they need and indeed our hearts and our thoughts with the family today.”

There were poignant scenes today as the body was removed to Mayo Hospital.

Coastguard members and rescue workers formed a guard of honour and a lone piper led the cortege.

A Tricolour was draped over the coffin.

Nearby locals in the in the village of Aughleam lined the streets to pay their respects to the coast guard member.

A dive team from the Naval Service were deployed this morning while an underwater robot from the Marine Institute operated throughout the night.

The remains have been recovered by navy divers and will now be transferred into the shoreline.

The Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) used cutting equipment to improve access to the cockpit of the Sikorsky S-92 aircraft which is located at the seabed 12km off the Mayo coast.

Investigators said that they have still not been able to locate the remaining two crew members.

The Commissioner of Irish Light's vessel, the Granuaile and the LE Samuel Beckett are currently based near the Blackrock island during this morning's search operations. 

Irish Coast Guard incident manager Derek Flanagan said that weather and sea conditions were much better than yesterday, when there was a heavy Atlantic swell.

The ROV, named the Holland 1 has since been withdrawn to make the area safe for the dive teams.

Garda divers are also making a sweep of the location in the search for the two other airmen.

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