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Laser attack on Rescue 116 as sailor rescued from the sea off Wicklow coast


THE Wicklow all-weather lifeboat was involved in a dramatic late-night operation after a sailor was reported missing from a container ship 16 miles off the coast of Wicklow.

The crew member belonging to the cargo ship fell overboard and spent close to an hour in the water until he was rescued by Wicklow RNLI and the Coast Guard helicopter Rescue 116.

It also transpired that the crew of Rescue 116 were blinded by a laser attack on their flight from Dublin Airport and during their return journey as well.

The lifeboat was launched at 10 p.m. on Sunday night and arrived in the general search area at around 10.45 p.m.. Rescue 116 was also tasked to assist with the rescue.

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As a search for the casualty was being carried out, he was located by the Wicklow RNLI lifeboat crew at around 11 p.m.

He was brought onto the lifeboat and a Rescue 116 winchman was lowered onto the boat to carry out an assessment of the casualty.

He was then winched up onto the Coast Guard helicopter and was transported to Beaumont Hospital.

Coxswain Nick Keogh said: ‘We located the casualty five miles northeast of the Codling Buoy during a sector search, weather conditions in the area were calm at the time with good visibility.’

The other crew members were Tommy Murphy, Tommy MacAulay, Alan Goucher, John Stapleton and Peter Byrne.

However, as Rescue 116 was approaching Dublin Airport with the casualty on board, a green laser light was shone into the cockpit, temporarily blinding all the crew. It’s is believed that the light came from a private house in a north Dublin housing estate.

The same laser was also used to attack the crew as they made their way from Dublin Airport to assist Wicklow RNLI with the search for the missing sailor.

Gardai carried out searches of the immediate area but weren’t able to locate the culprits.