Tuesday 17 September 2019

Crew rescued as burning trawler sinks off Arklow

Crew evacuated on life raft, one treated for smoke inhalation

An RNLI crew member watches on as a tug attempts to extinguish the fire on the trawler. PHOTO BY RNLI/NUALA MCALOON
An RNLI crew member watches on as a tug attempts to extinguish the fire on the trawler. PHOTO BY RNLI/NUALA MCALOON

Pádraig Byrne

Three fishermen are recovering following a dramatic rescue after their trawler burst into flames some 30 miles off the Arklow Coast. The incident took place on Thursday afternoon and saw one of the crew of the Suzanne II rushed to hospital where he was treated for smoke inhalation.

The mayday call went out at 3.46 p.m. from the distressed vessel and other fishing boats in the area began to circle around to assist, having noticed the thick black smoke billowing from the Suzanne II, which has previously fished out of both Arklow and Wicklow.

A vessel called the Highlander immediately made its way across to provide assistance while volunteer crews from both Arklow and Wicklow RNLI launched in their all-weather lifeboats, as well as the Coast Guard's Rescue 117 helicopter which took off from Waterford to assist. The crew of the boat had used an emergency position-indicating radio beacon (EPIRB) to raise the alarm.

Once on the scene, the Arklow RNLI crew observed that the three fishermen on board the Suzanne II had evacuated onto their life raft and picked up by the Highlander. Having assessed the situation, the lifeboat crew transferred two casualties to the lifeboat to administer casualty care, while a third was airlifted to hospital by the Rescue 117 helicopter.

Arklow and Wicklow RNLI then stood by as a tug boat with fire-fighting capabilities made efforts to put out the blaze which had engulfed the trawler, however, they were powerless to prevent it sinking.

Speaking in the wake of the incident, Arklow RNLI Coxswain Ned Dillon commended the crew for their rapid thinking and actions that may have just saved their lives.

'Thankfully, all three fishermen were rescued this evening and we would like to wish them all a speedy recovery following what must have been a frightening experience for them,' he said. 'We would like to commend the skipper and his crew for doing the right thing and activating the Epirb when they knew they were in difficulty; that was the right thing to do.'

'We would also like to thank and commend the crew of the vessels that were in the area and responded along with ourselves and our colleagues at Wicklow RNLI and in the Irish Coast Guard.'

'It is always sad to see a fishing vessel sink but we are happy that all three fishermen are safe and recovering from their ordeal.'

Wicklow People