June 18, 2021

DAY 19: 15 naval divers and robot battle elements to recover missing fisherman’s body

Difficult conditions again hampered the massive sea operation to recover the body of a fisherman who has been missing off the coast since for 19 days.

Yesterday a body was found in the search for Willie Whelan (41) by divers from the Hook Sub Aqua club diving at the spot where the trawler he was working on, the Alize, went down near Hook Head.

A joint operation again took place today between the Navy, Irish Coast Guard and gardaí at the site in an effort to recover the body.

Up to 15 naval divers alongside an automated submersible vessel from the ILV Granuaile, a multifunctional vessel which can operate in difficult sea conditions, assessed the site where the trawler and body were discovered.

It is believed the vessel is lying in waters some 55 meters deep. The naval vessels LE Samuel Beckett and LE James Joyce are also assisting in the recovery effort.

Mr Whelan, from Saltmills, county Wexford has been missing since his boat sank off Hook Head around 10.45pm on Saturday, January 4.

A second fisherman Joe Sinnott (65) from Kilmore, who was also on the boat when it sank, died at University Hospital Waterford (UHW) on Sunday, January 5 after being rescued from the sea.

A massive search for the Alize and Mr Whelan was launched and included the Kilmore Quay lifeboat, the Dunmore East Lifeboat, the Naval Diving Section and the naval vessel LÉ Samuel Beckett.

Mr Whelan and Mr Sinnott’s boat sank as they were returning to Duncannon harbour after being out fishing for scallops.


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