History wiped out in space of five hours
WITHIN the space of just over five hours, a huge part of County Wicklow’s maritime history was lost with the sinking of the Asgard II on Thursday.
Since the sinking of the famous boat that was built in Arklow, a joint inquiry has been launched between the Irish and French authorities to determine what caused the incident.
The Marine Casualty Investigation Board confirmed this week that it will be liaising with a similar French board on the matter.
A short time before the Asgard II succumbed to the floods of water which overran her from 2 a.m. Irish time, the group of 25 sailers including crew were safely evacuated at Belle- Ile- enMer, an island in the Bay of Biscay, just off the coast of Brittany.
Within 45 minutes of the high-water level alarm the French Coastguard had safely rescued the crew and trainees from their lifeboats, bringing them ashore, from where they were transferred to a nearby hotel.
Hours later, at 7.25 a.m., the Asgard II had gone from view, taking many precious memories with her to the sea bed.
The 27- year- old ship, which was extremely well known all over Ireland, was in the region of just 100 miles from its destination of La Rochelle in France.
Captain Colm Newport, who has captained the Asgard II for many years, said that at this stage there was no confirmation aas to what caused the sinking.
‘All I can tell you is we had a severe ingress of water which gave the ship a critical loss of stability and the ship was abandoned. No injuries were sustained to any member of the crew or trainees. We kept the raft alongside the vessel when we were still communcating with the rescue people. My decision was, for the safety of all on board, to abandon ship,’ he said.
The training vessel, owned by the Irish State, was specially commissioned for sail training purposes and was designed and built in Tyrrell’s boat yard in Arklow over a three-year period.
For many years young sailers from all over the country have signed up for a training course aboard the impressive ship which include instruction on every aspect of sailing from steering and scrubbing decks to lookout, rigging, cooking and cleaning.
The ship which was constructed in Arklow between 1979 and 1981 played a large part in the lives of many local families in town and was always seen as a important tool in linking the coastal town with the rest of the world.
The Asgard II.