The Marine Institute’s RV Celtic Explorer is providing specialist support to assist in the major sea search off Mayo to locate Irish Coast Guard helicopter Rescue 116 that was lost early on Tuesday 14th March.
The Dublin-based search and rescue helicopter R116 had been providing ‘top cover’ during a medical evacuation of a crewman from a UK registered fishing vessel approximately 150 miles west of Eagle Island in County Mayo, which was completed by Sligo based Coast Guard helicopter R118. Around 1am contact with the helicopter was lost.
A search operation went underway and at first light Captain Dara Fitzpatrick was recovered from the water in a critical condition, but sadly she passed away soon after. The search is still ongoing for the three other crew members and wreckage from the helicopter, with the RNLI, LÉ Roisin and local fishing vessels assisting.
The Marine Institute research vessel the RV Celtic Voyager has now joined the search operation approximately six miles west of Blacksod. Marine Institute staff from the INFOMAR team, (the national seabed mapping programme) are assisting with the search using specialist multibeam sonar equipment onboard the RV Celtic Voyager to search the area.
The search operation is being coordinated by the Coast Guard Rescue Coordination Centre in Malin Head. The RV Celtic Voyager was diverted yesterday from an undergraduate training survey with GMIT, to assist with the search following a request by the Air Accident Investigation Unit of the Department of Transport. Coast Guard search and rescue helicopters, the Air Corps, Navy, RNLI and a number of local fishing vessels are involved in the search operation.