Updated: 06/04/17 : 05:59:36
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Large NorthWest flotilla to join R116 search

Efforts to find Paul Ormsby and Ciaran Smith, the winch team from the ill-fated R116 downed rescue helicopter, will this weekend be upscaled by a massive fleet of large and small trawlers plus many other craft from the NorthWest.

Searches extending from north Galway and Achill island along Ireland's western seaboard at Sligo bay, into Donegal bay and west Donegal will be intensified.

Sean O'Donoghue, of the Killybegs Fishermen's Organisation (KFO), and Francis O'Donnell, of the Irish Fish Producers' Organisation (IFPO), said it was organising a fleet of large trawlers and other boats to leave south Donegal on Friday to begin a coordinated search from Blackrock Island at dawn on Saturday.

The fleet will be joined by a number of private vessels from Sligo and RNLI rescue craft. The search will concentrate northwards from Blackrock covering Sligo bay, Donegal Bay and further north.

The organisers said, "This search has been discussed with the Coast Guard and they are very appreciative of our support, advice and continued assistance. In addition to this coordinated search we are asking all fishing vessels operating in the area to keep a close eye out for any debris from the helicopter."

Some pieces of the helicopter's fuselage was found off west Donegal two weeks after the crash.

Mr O'Donoghue and Mr O'Donnell urged small boat users not to take any risks trying to support the search.

"We fully understand that a large number of vessels want to get involved in the search but we would ask that vessels do not risk going to sea in small vessels when the weather conditions are unsuitable. Safety at sea is of paramount importance and we do not want further tragedies," they said.

The upgraded search effort comes in response to the family of one of the missing winchmen, Ciarán Smith who said, "We need those boys home".

"Fishermen from around Blacksod, Co Mayo, are willing to take part in a major sea search in the coming days in the hope that they can locate the men.

"They are asking their counterparts in fishing communities along the Mayo, Sligo and Donegal coastline to assist in a co-ordinated survey of an area stretching from Achill to Aranmore Island in Co Donegal. Local knowledge was key to the effort to bring Ciarán and second missing crew member Paul Ormsby home," said Orla Smith. See link below.

The wreckage of R116 was lifted from the seabed on Sunday evening off Blackrock island however there was deep disappointment at the failure to find any trace of the two Irish Coast Guard airmen. it was transported to Galway Port on board the Irish Lights Vessel the Granuaile.

                  The wreckage of R116 being transported from Galway Port

Link: Sligo Today 4/4/2017