by Patrick Flynn
The Shannon based Irish Coast Guard helicopter has been forced to abandon the search for a sailor reported to have fallen overboard from a trawler in the North Atlantic.
The crew of Rescue 115 had been sent to the scene 330 kilometres off the Clare coast but was forced to return to base because of poor weather conditions.
The alarm was raised at around 5.00pm when the captain of the Spanish fishing trawler alerted staff at the Irish Coast Guard marine rescue sub centre on Valentia Island in Kerry.
The helicopter left Shannon Airport at around 5.30pm but poor weather conditions including strong head winds forced the crew to turn around about 30 minutes later.
An Air Corp CASA maritime patrol aircraft, which had been sent to provide long-range communications top-cover, has continued to the scene.
It’s understood the sailor fell overboard from the vessel at around 4.30pm and that efforts by crew members to locate him were unsuccessful.
It’s not yet known whether the helicopter crew will rejoin the search if conditions improve.
Last Friday, the crew of Rescue 115 airlifted a man from a Russian factory ship almost 300 kilometres off the Irish coast.
The man had suffered burns in an engine room incident and was flown to hospital in Cork for treatment.