Ardglass Trawler Crew Rescued After Running Aground

Karen, ran on to the rocks north of Ardglass in the dark. The weather conditions at the time were calm and as the vessel collided on to the rocks, the four-man crew immediately put their survival training into practice and launched the inflatable lifeboat as the vessel was potentially in danger of sinking. Skipper Simon Wills sent out a Mayday signal and the rescue services responded at once. The Portaferry RNLI lifefboat was dispatched as was the Irish Coastguard rescue helicopter, but as the RNLI arrived in around 20 minutes and the crew were safe, the helicopter was then stood down. Although the crew were rescued safely it is understood that one crewman fell and injured his back when the boat struck the rocks. The Karen was refloated off the rocks that same evening and taken into Ardglass harbour when the two NI Fire Service tenders had three pumps in operation empyting out the water causing a serious stability problem to the vessel.  Inspectors from the Marine and Coastguard Agency were also on the scene the following day investigating the causes of the near sinking. [caption id="attachment_18661" align="alignleft" width="400" caption="The Ardglass prawn trawler, the Karen, that ran aground on Monday evening on rocks just north of the harbour."][/caption] The skipper and crew have inspected the vessel berthed in the harbour and there is considerable damage done to the bottom of the hull. Repairs will likely take several weeks to complete on the slip in Kilkeel. Ritchie Highlights Need To Keep Local Coastguard Services SDLP Leader and South Down MP Margaret Ritchie said the families of a crew involved in the sea rescue near Ardglass on Monday are hugely relieved after they were brought to safety and the incident underlines the need for coastguard services in the area. Ms Ritchie said,“My thoughts and that of the community are with the crew and their families as they come to terms with this traumatic ordeal. “Thankfully, due to the professionalism and speedy efforts of the Belfast Coastguard this did not end in tragedy and the crew are now looking forward to the New Year with their families. “Over the last few months I have repeatedly called for the retention of the Belfast Coastguard and have made British Government Ministers aware that the removal of this service could have very serious implications for the safety of our community and fishermen. “I hope that this near tragedy will focus the attentions of the ministers involved in coastguard provision and that the proposals to remove the Belfast Coastguard will be reviewed with immediate effect.” PCS Opposes Cuts To Coastguard Service Opposing any cuts in the HM Coastguard service, Ian Graham, Public and Communications Services union representative, who is based at Northern Ireland’s  Coastguard Centre in Banqor said, “We fully support a manned Coastguard station based here in Northen Ireland and we are concerned about the current public consultation to change these services. You cannot replace local knowledge especially in an emergency. There is so much that can go wrong with having rescue services operated from hundreds of miles away. For example, even a simple issue of local accents can confuse communications. “Also, it is little reassurance  to someone perhaps in the water in rough weather in an emergency especially at this time of year knowing their life depends on someone many miles away. “What the government is proposing is a huge 25% cut which will affect front line service. Only a very small percentage of admin and support staff will lose out. This is not an acceptable proposal.”]]>