The 81-metre cargo carrier, 'Swanland' broadcast a mayday message at 2.00 am this morning. The ship reported that their hull was cracking, due to bad weather and that they thought that it may be taking water. Holyhead Coastguard broadcast a mayday relay and several vessels responded. Two of these vessels were able to go to the assistance of the Swanland and its eight crew. When the two vessels arrived at the scene, they found two liferafts and some floating debris. They were able to provide shelter from the gale force winds, whilst awaiting the arrival of rescue resources. Meanwhile Holyhead Coastguard had scrambled the two rescue helicopters from RAF Valley and Dublin Coastguard and requested the launch of the Pwllheli and Porth Dinllaen RNLI all weather lifeboats.
When the helicopters arrived on scene they found two crew members in the water clinging to the liferafts. These two were airlifted from the sea into the RAF helicopter and taken to RAF Valley. The search is continuing for the other six. The original two helicopters have now been replaced with a helicopter from RAF Chivenor and an Irish Coastguard helicopter.
Holyhead Coastguard Watch Manager Jim Green says:
"We are very concerned for the safety of the other six crew members. We know that at least some of them are wearing immersion suits and have strobe lighting with them, however sea conditions are challenging at best.
The cargo vessel had 3000 tonnes of limestone onboard. It appears that it may have sunk."