'We've lost a bit of history'

Thirty people have been rescued after the tall ship they were on hit rocks and sunk off the south coast of Ireland.

It is believed the 42-metre (137ft) Dutch training vessel, the Astrid, had lost power on the western entrance to Kinsale Harbour in Cork and was blown onto the rocks by a strong southerly wind.

was a two metre swell and winds were force five to six.

A major emergency
operation, involving the RNLI and coastguard, began at midday.

RNLI lifeboats from Kinsale,
Crosshaven, Courtmacsherry and Ballycotton were launched to attend Astrid, which had hit rocks inside the Sovereign
Islands at Ballymacus Point.

Irish Coast Guard helicopters from Waterford and Shannon also attended along with ambulances and medical crews from Cork.

The grounded vessel was taking on water and a crewmember from
Kinsale RNLI was put on board. Eighteen of the casualties were taken off
the Astrid by Kinsale RNLI lifeboat and transferred to Courtmacsherry
lifeboat, before being brought to safety.

The remaining 12
were put onto a liferaft deployed by the Astrid’s crew, which was towed
to safety by the Kinsale lifeboat and picked up by a local vessel. The
people on board the liferaft were then taken to Kinsale harbour and
assessed by medical teams.

A lucky escape

Courtmacsherry RNLI Coxswain Sean O’Farrell said: ‘Everyone was very fortunate.

‘I want to praise the quick thinking of
the skipper and the crew from the Astrid.

‘They kept calm and did
everything we asked them to do. We were able to get them to safety
quickly and a major tragedy was averted.

‘To be able to recover 30
people was a great day for everyone involved. It was a great team effort
between the RNLI lifeboats and all the vessels that came to their aid.’

The Irish Coast Guard
said the vessel is now breaking up and beginning to sink.

The Astrid, which was in Weymouth, Dorset last week had visited Kinsale
on a journey from Southampton to Cherbourg in France.

Devastating news

Her former Captain Paul Compton said: ‘The Astrid has sunk off Kinsale. I’m mortified, it’s awful.

‘I understand the engine failed on entering the harbour and the wind blew her onto the rocks.

‘I was the last English Captain of the Astrid, we’ve lost a bit of history.

‘She did a fantastic job training young people, it’s a great loss to the world, really sad.’

The Astrid was built in
1918 as a lugger and up to about 1975 she carried cargo on the Baltic Sea.

After a period under the
Lebanese flag, which ended in a fire, she came into British hands and was converted into her sail training role in the 80s at Portland Harbour.

was completely overhauled and turned into a traditional, luxury sailing vessel.

Pictures: Tall Ship Astrid in Weymouth. Credit: Paul Dallaway

A still from a video of emergency services attending the sinking Astrid. Credit RNLI.