Skipper rescued after two hours in sea just ‘glad to be alive’

THE skipper of the West Cork trawler which sank on Monday has spoken of his relief and gratitude following the dramatic rescue of all seven crew members.

Noel O’Sullivan, 45, from Castletownbere was treated in Cornwall on Monday night for hypothermia after he and another crewman were plucked from the sea, after spending two hours in the water, while five other colleagues were taken to safety from a liferaft.

“Glad to be alive at the moment, and that’s the main thing,” he said.

The incident unfolded “ in minutes”, according to the skipper. After a normal morning’s fishing in calm conditions, “we just seemed to list and it rapidly increased. It was too quick to find out the problem, we just had to abandon ship.”

All seven crew were in the water for about 25 minutes, he said, and while the first liferaft was punctured when it came to the surface, five of the men were able to get on the second liferaft.

Noel O’Sullivan and another crew member clung onto the punctured raft, in lifejackets, and waited.

“We just tried to keep the cool as best we could. You just hope for the best. It’s hard to describe but I wouldn’t want to go through it again.”

The Discovery skipper and owner has been fishing since 1991 and regularly carried out safety checks on his vessel, as well as putting in two new liferafts last year and getting the “EPIRB” distress beacon serviced before Christmas.

The seven crew members were picked up by an oil tanker en route to Rotterdam and airlifted to the RAF base at Culdrose, Cornwall. The Discovery sank late on Monday morning, 160 miles off the Isles of Scilly.

Meanwhile, Garda divers yesterday completed their search of the interior of the Honeydew II, off the south coast, but a search of the seabed around the sunken vessel continues today.

Coastguard spokesperson Declan Geoghegan said yesterday that the divers, part of a 12-man Garda Water Unit, had found nothing apart from some pieces of debris.

The shoreline search for the bodies of skipper Ger Bohan and crewman Tomasz Jagla will continue.

A shoreline search is also continuing for the five crew members lost when the Dunmore East trawler, the Pere Charles, went down — also on January 10.

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