A passenger vessel carrying 120 people was sunk and an order given to abandon ship in Northern Ireland’s largest ever live maritime emergency rescue exercise to date.
RNLI lifeboats and crew from six stations in Northern Ireland and Scotland were involved in Exercise Diamond, as well as all-weather lifeboats from Donaghadee, Larne and the inshore lifeboat from Bangor.
The large-scale operation in Belfast Lough tested the response of multiple search, rescue and recovery agencies to a major maritime incident.
The drama from the planned scenario unfolded early yesterday morning with a staged ‘collision’ caused by an electrical fault between a passenger vessel, MV Lough Explorer — which had 120 people on board — and a commercial roll-on/roll-off ferry, with 50 passengers and 23 crew onboard.
Damage was caused to the bow of the Lough Explorer and the hull of the ferry.
In the scenario, the Lough Explorer was sinking rapidly and the master of the ship broadcast a mayday message and gave an order to abandon the vessel.