The Irish Coastguard has been assisting two vessels that got into difficulty off the south west coast today during Storm Erik. Met Éireann issued a storm warning for areas from Loop Head to Malin Head.
Divisional Controller Derek Flanagan told RTE’s News at One how the Coastguard rescue coordination centre in Valentia is dealing with the incidents.
“One was an Irish fishing vessel that was 120 miles west of Dingle that got struck by a very large wave and sustained major damage, it is now slowly making its way towards an Irish port, thankfully none of the crew were injured and they are safe at the minute, they are reporting that sea conditions are starting to drop down, as the storm passes further to the north.
“Around the same time - 7am - a Russian based vessel further out to sea, 230 miles south-west of Dingle, also reported an incident where they had some mechanical issues due to the weather.
“That's quite a big vessel with 91 persons on board, they actually lost engine power and are currently adrift in very high seas - 10m seas, we're waiting for the weather to abate before another vessel can tow them into port and sort out their engine problems.”
Mr Flanagan pointed out that 10m seas are “probably as high as two buses together. The swells are very high out there, conditions are very rough.
“Our biggest concern is the danger that these waves represent to the vessels, the likelihood of injury to crews working aboard these vessels is increased quite a lot as they try to contend with those weather conditions.
The Coast Guard strongly advises the public to stay away from exposed beaches, cliffs and piers, harbour walls and promenades along the coast during storm conditions.— Irish Coast Guard (@IrishCoastGuard) February 8, 2019
Remember to Stay Back, Stay High and Stay Dry. #StormErik pic.twitter.com/ahO2uvdHUp
“There's about 20 of those very large vessels working in an area about 200 miles off the coats at the minute. They've decided to work through this weather, they're used to it, to these conditions all the time, they know that these storms pass quickly, they ride out the weather until conditions get better then start fishing again.”
He added that quite a few other large vessels have taken refuge in places like Sheephaven and Donegal, having decided not to risk damage that might be caused.
“We expect the weather to be like this for the next 12-36 hours.”