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Irish Coast Guard helicopter crash: Underwater robot deployed in search for Rescue 116 and missing crewmen

By Robin Schiller & Louise Kelly

Search teams have launched an underwater robot in the search for Rescue 116 and its three missing crewmen.

The deployment of the Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) is seen as significant progress in the search operation.

An improvement in conditions meant that the robot was launched before 8pm this evening from the Granuaile vessel.

However, it was withdrawn a short time later and is expected to be redeployed tomorrow morning.

The primary focus of the operation is the recovery of the three missing crewmen- Mark Duffy, Ciaran Smith and Paul Ormsby- while investigators are also hopeful to locate the helicopter's black box.

The underwater robot, named the Holland 1, will attempt to examine the wreckage of the Rescue 116 helicopter which is located in depths of 40m and approximately 60m off the Black Rock island.

A 13-man Naval Service dive team are also on standby at the Blacksod lighthouse from where the operation is being coordinated.

Attached is a Multibeam Sonar image of the seabed taken by INFOMAR (Ireland's National Seabed Mapping Programme).

This multibeam data will allow the Granuaille to get closer into Blackrock to both deploy the ROV (remotely operated vehicle) and divers.

The ROV will use this multibeam data to safely navigate the terrain features identified on the seabed.

These features have been identified by INFOMAR data specialists as meriting further detailed inspection by ROV or divers currently on location.

Meanwhile, an evening prayer vigil was held in Blacksod on Tuesday evening for the families and crew of Rescue 116.

Dozens gathered near the Co Mayo bay to remember those affected following the downing of the Coast Guard helicopter last week.

Those who gathered at the site overlooking the Black Rock Lighthouse lit candles and said prayers for the crew members and their loved ones.

Last night, Air Accident Investigation Unit (AAIU) confirmed that they believe that the tail of Rescue 116 aircraft collided with rocks on the Black Rock island.

Although the Air Accident Investigation Unit (AAIU) have stated that although the investigation is in its early stages, there are indications that the downed helicopter may have hit rocks.

Investigations are now continuing with to ascertain exactly the initial point of impact.

Irish Independent

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