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Tall Ship Astrid Sinking Investigations Underway

25th July 2013
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Dutch Tall Ship Astrid lies on rocks at a location known as the Prince's Grave close to the Sovereign islands off Kinsale this afternoon. Photo: Bob Bateman
Tall Ship Astrid Sinking Investigations Underway

#tallshipsinking – The hull of the 42–metre–long Tall Ship Astrid appears to remain largely intact on rocks off Kinsale this afternoon, some 24 hours after the Dutch brig foundered during an Irish Sailing Association (ISA) parade of sail at its 'Gathering' Cruise yesterday. The accident now looks likely to be the focus of at least two separate enquiries, according to Afloat sources. News of the accident broke on Afloat.ie yesterday.

An exclusion zone has been set up around the wreck this morning for safety reasons as the Coast Guard assess the damage and wait to hear what action the owners of the Astrid plan on taking. There are a reported 3.5 tonnes of diesel on board Astrid and there is a pollution concern if the ship broke up. Divers are expected to examine the ship today.

There is speculation that a salvage attempt may be possible. The ship appears to be stuck fast on the rocks with little movement in the swell at the mouth of Oysterhaven harbour.

This afternoon the stern of the hull is clearly visible, with three inflated liferafts, lifebuoys and a dinghy still tethered. Both masts and rigging appear intact and sails furled or partially furled. An Irish tricolour courtesy flag is also still flying from the foremast, flown as a token of respect by this visiting vessel to Irish waters.

Both Dutch and Irish Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) inquiries are likely after the Failte Ireland backed 'Gathering Cruise' ran into difficulties with the total loss of the 1918-built Astrid as it made its way along the Cork coast yesterday at noon. It is the same spot where the barque Falls of Garry sank in 1911. (See google map below).

A Mayday call after an engine failure prompted a massive air sea rescue operation as desperate efforts to tow the vessel away from rocks by event organisers failed.

A text book rescue of all 30 people on board was completed when four RNLI lifeboats arrived on scene off Kinsale, County Cork. Winds were southerly and blowing up to force five with a four metre swell hampering the evacuation, according to John Leahy, a participant on the cruise.

A major emergency plan was activated in Cork and a medical emergency team was also on standby at Dublin airport.

As well as Cork lifeboats, the Navy's LE Emer and two Coastguard helicopters were involved in the rescue.

Irish Sailing Association (ISA) organisers have thanked rescue services for their rapid response in saving all 23 trainees and seven crew on board.

Teenage trainees on board the vessel were said to be shocked, but no was hurt.

The square rigger was leading a parade of sail for photo opportunities when it reported engine failure.

The captain tried to use the ships sails to manoeuvre away from rocks near Prince's Grave near the Sovereign islands. Reports say there was a 4m swell and force four to five southerly wind blowing.

astrid3

A Rib in the foreground monitors the wreck site and a vehicle is visible on the edge of the field directly above the site. An exclusion zone has been set up around the ship. Photo: Bob Bateman

The ISA's Harry Hermon described in a statement last night how he attempted to throw a line to the foundering ship.

A Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) report is now most likely to establish the facts surrounding the accident but Dutch authorities are also expected to carry out an inquiry as a standard procedure.

Last night, the Gathering Cruise continued with a Gala dinner at Kinsale Yacht Club. Up to 20 or so participants are scheduled to be heading west to the Glandore Classic Boat festival tomorrow before the event concludes in Dingle, county Kerry.


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Published in Tall Ships
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