10 trawlermen lucky to be alive after boats collide off Co Down coast, sinking one
An investigation has been launched after 10 fishermen had a lucky escape when two trawlers collided off the Co Down coast, causing one to sink.
The Silver Dee went down about 10 miles off Ardglass yesterday after colliding with the Good Intent, which although damaged was escorted back to harbour with all 10 of both crews on board, shocked but unharmed.
The fishermen's Mayday call was answered by the RNLI team from Newcastle, who launched their rescue operation just after 5.30am.
It is unknown what caused the collision but an investigation has been launched by the Marine Accident Investigation Branch and Coastguard.
The Silver Dee sank in waters of up to 70m deep, but the crew managed to board the other vessel without getting wet.
While the Good Intent took on water after the accident, the crew were able to remain on board as the vessel was escorted back to Ardglass Harbour.
Newcastle RNLI coxswain Richard Herron said that after the alarm was raised they learned on their way out that one of the boats had sunk.
"Luckily all the crew were on board the other vessel, but it was taking on water," he said. "By the time we got there, they had the leak under control and didn't require any assistance with the salvage pumps. Everyone on board was okay medically, so we escorted them back to Ardglass."
Fishermen's Mission superintendent Maurice Lake said there was "huge relief" that no one perished in the accident, adding "jobs can be found and equipment can be replaced".
South Down MP Margaret Ritchie said the accident illustrated the high risks inherent to the fishing industry
Ms Ritchie said: "It is extremely fortunate that this accident has not resulted in tragedy because such incidents can easily result in death or serious injury.
"The crew are now thankfully on their way to hospital but this has highlighted once again the serious risks that our fishermen take everyday. I wish all involved a speedy recovery.
"Investigating this incident must be a priority to ensure something like this can be avoided in the future. I will offer every assistance I can to the crews and their families."
She added that the "community's thoughts are with the crews and families of the two boats involved in the collision".
Local councillor Dermot Curran said he was "delighted there was no loss of life".
"Fortunately, the way it happened the crews didn't even go into the water, but got on to another vessel," he said.
"The fishing industry plays a big part in the economy of Ardglass and we are very close-knit."