Belfast Telegraph

Young sailors among 30 rescued from sea as tall ship smashes into rocks

BY COLIN O'CARROLL

A tall ship that visited Belfast as part of the Titanic Maritime Festival in May has been at the centre of a sea rescue drama off the coast of Co Cork.

The 42-metre Dutch training vessel Astrid started to sink after hitting rocks inside the Sovereign Islands at Ballymacus Point near Kinsale at around noon.

Four RNLI lifeboats were scrambled to aid her and all 30 people aboard were brought to safety in Kinsale.

The training vessel had lost power and was driven on to the rocks by a strong southerly wind at the western entrance to Kinsale harbour.

Eighteen of the casualties were taken off the Astrid by Kinsale RNLI lifeboat and transferred to Courtmacsherry lifeboat before being brought to safety.

The remaining 12 were put on to a life raft deployed by the Astrid's crew, which was towed to safety by the Kinsale lifeboat and then picked up by a local vessel.

The people on board the life raft were then taken to Kinsale harbour and assessed by medical teams. Irish Coast Guard helicopters from Waterford and Shannon were also on scene along with ambulances and medical crews from Cork.

One teenage sailor said emergency training helped them keep calm as they awaited help.

Daragh Comiskey (17) from Co Wexfor, was among a group of more than 20 young people from across Britain, Ireland and Europe on board.

"It was very rough when we hit the rocks," he said.

"There were a few attempts to get the ship back off them but that wasn't going to work.

"I only realised the ship was in real trouble when the life jackets started getting handed out."

Despite the drama, Daragh said people on board remained calm.

"Everyone knew what to do, we were all trained. We just listened to instructions.

"Everyone got back safely, which is what matters."

Courtmacsherry RNLI Coxswain Sean O'Farrell said, "Everyone was very fortunate.

"I want to praise the quick thinking of the skipper and the crew from the Astrid.

"They kept calm and did everything we asked them to do. We were able to get them to safety quickly and a major tragedy was averted.

"To be able to recover 30 people safely was a great day for everyone involved."

The Astrid had been among boats taking part in The Gathering Cruise which was due to arrive in Kinsale and continue to the Glandore Classic Boat regatta tomorrow.

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