By Patrick Flynn
The Coast Gaurd has located a stricken fishing trawler around 150km off the Kerry coast after communications were lost yesterday afternoon.
Irish Navy vessel the LÉ William Butler Yeats remains on scene today while a tug has also been sent to tow the trawler back to port.
The alarm was raised yesterday afternoon when the Irish Coast Guard received a distress signal from an emergency position-indicating radio-beacon (EPIRB). Automatic EPIRB’s activate when they are released from their mounting bracket under pressure from water when a vessel sinks.
The Shannon-based Irish Coast Guard, Rescue 115, was requested to proceed to the last known location of the emergency signal amid fears the vessel had sunk.
Rescue 117 from Waterford was also tasked to provide communications top-cover.
The 72ft (22m) Ocean Pioneer was left adrift without power or any means of communication. It is understood the crew intentionally activated the trawler’s EPIRB device in an effort to alert the Coast Guard to their emergency.
Watch officers at the Irish Coast Guard’s marine rescue sub centre on Valentia Island mounted and coordinated the search effort. The last known location of fishing boat was around 80 nautical miles (148km) west of Valentia Island in Kerry.
The Shannon-based crew reached the scene and quickly located the fishing vessel. Rescuers established the vessel was still afloat and that the crew of seven was unharmed.
With night falling, an Irish Naval Service ship was dispatched to the scene to remain with the stricken trawler overnight. Without any lighting to indicate its position, other ships were at risk of colliding with the vessel. The LÉ William Butler Yeats is still at the scene this afternoon.
A tug was also dispatched from Castletownbere late last night and made its way to assist the trawler.
The tug reached the vessel earlier today and is expected to tow the trawler back to port later tonight or early tomorrow morning.