Early this morning, just before 5.30am on Wednesday (October 23), HM Coastguard received a Mayday call from a fishing vessel which had lost power and run aground at the entrance to Ardglass Harbour, County Down.
The Dillon Owen, a pelagic trawler registered in the Republic of Ireland which had landed its catch on numerous occasions in Ardglass in the past, foundered on the rocks in stormy conditions with a south-easterly wind blowing a dangerous swell. The vessel was loaded with its catch of late season herring caught in the Irish Sea destined for the two processing factories in Ardglass.
The Coastguard Rescue Team from Newcastle, the Portaferry lifeboat, the Newcastle lifeboat and the search and rescue helicopter from Dublin were immediately despatched. A nearby fishing vessel also offered assistance by standing by.
All five crew members on board were airlifted to safety to a farm area on the north side of Ardglass and no medical assistance was needed by any of the crew.
The vessel remains aground at the moment lying on its port side with the possibility it could further slip into deeper water and submerge. The relevant authorities including the Maritime and Coastguard Agency have been advised and an investigation will now take place on the causes of the incident.
It is suspected that the vessel experienced engine failure on entering the harbour entrance and struck an underwater rock known locally as the Churn Rock which is a permanent navigational hazzard at the entrance to the harbour which is marked on vessel charts.