Updated: 08/04/17 : 08:15:54
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Hundreds to join Sligo coastal search today

Over a dozen large fishing  vessels, and scores of inshore boats from Galway, Mayo, Sligo and Donegal will be joined by many others from further afield in today's co-ordinated search for the two remaining missing crewmen from the ill-fated R116 Coast Guard helicopter.

The recovery flotilla will assist in a concerted sea survey sweep which sets out from Blackrock island, west of Blacksod Bay, this morning, Saturday at 9am.
See live link below

The fleet will be supported by Irish Coast Guard air, sea and shore units, by the Naval Service and Air Corps, by the Garda Water Unit, Civil Defence and by RNLI volunteers.

Mayo’s Ballyglass and Achill all-weather lifeboats have already recorded 244 active search hours since the crash, while inshore lifeboat crews from Ballyglass, Sligo and Bundoran have launched up to three times daily since debris was found in Portnoo, Co Donegal.

The RNLI Arranmore island crew has been out for four full days over the past week.

Watching brief

Their efforts will be supported on dry land by many volunteers, armed with binoculars and telescopes, keeping a watching brief of the ocean in the hope of spotting any debris from the downed chopper.

In Sligo, members of the general public are expected to head today and/or tomorrow to Enniscrone, Easkey, Dunmore, Portavade, Strandhill, Sligo Docks, Coney Island, Rosses Point, Raghly, Lissadell beach, Streedagh, Cliffony, Mullaghmore and many small inlets to play their part in this vital operation.

The search plan at sea has been drawn up by Malin Head Coast Guard marine rescue co-ordination centre, and involves a grid extending some 56km (35 miles) west, depending on the vessel size.

If nothing is found, the underwater robotic vessel Holland 1 will continue to work the seabed area around the island, and Supt Healy of Belmullet Garda station says he is open to more physical searches on and beneath Blackrock.

If State agencies inevitably have to pull back, the inshore fleet will continue, according to north Mayo fisherman and RNLI crewman Eamon Dixon.

Warmer weather is on the way, there will be more boats at sea, and there is always that sliver of hope.

Readers can follow the progress of the sea search live HERE