Skipper’s wife rejects fatigue claims

There could have been at least two more survivors of the Tit Bonhomme tragedy if there had been a quicker helicopter response, the widow of its skipper Michael Hayes claimed.

Caitlín Uí hAodha also questioned the delay in drafting in the Toe Head Coast Guard to help with the Jan 2012 tragedy. She further rejected claims fatigue had been an issue.

The completed report by the Marine Casualty Investigation Board contains pages of correspondence between Mrs Uí hAodha and investigators.

She claims up to three people may have been saved if there had been a different response. The only surviving member of the six-man crew was Abdul Mohammed.

Mrs Uí hAodha claimed the report “omitted key details” including that a member of the Waterford helicopter crew had said a person was sighted in the water minutes before Abdo Mohamad was found.

In response, the MCIB said it “acknowledges that priority must be given to rescuing survivors”.

Mrs Uí hAodha also said she was “appalled to learn that a helicopter sitting on the ramp in Shannon is not fully fuelled and ready for flight” considering it was the closest to Glandore.

She said both the Waterford and Shannon helicopters should have been tasked to deal with the incident and claimed: “I personally believe, had the helicopter been there sooner, we would be looking at three survivors.”

The MCIB said poor weather conditions meant the Shannon helicopter needed “additional pre- flight briefing” and that there was also a problem with its fuel bowser.

The MCIB also said having two helicopters in the same airspace in bad weather “could be extremely dangerous”.

The MCIB also rebutted Mrs Uí hAodha claim “we would have had more survivors today if the rescue services had arrived on the scene earlier”, stating that launching small RIBs without adequate support might have put the lives of volunteers at risk.

Mrs Uí hAodha also queried claims of fatigue, asking: “Did the survivor Abdul [Abdo] state that they were excessively tired or over-worked on this occasion? Is it not just as likely that whoever was on watch could have gone to the bathroom or left the wheelhouse for a few moments to return just before the impact?”

She also claimed that alerts from the emergency position indicating radio beacon was first detected at 5.57am, with its exact position only known 12 minutes later. She asked: “Why, considering that an emergency call was made, coupled with an EPIRB alert, was there a delay in tasking the Waterford helicopter”.

However, the MCIB said there was “no evidence” that any of the crew made an emergency call by radio and that it was “not unknown” for EPIRBs to accidently activate. It said the emergency call was made by mobile phone but was “very broken up” and the ship’s grounding was “very sudden and without warning”.

Mrs Uí hAodha said: “None of the information in the report justify an arrival time of one hour 52 minutes to a mayday call.”

More in this section