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Grief for the Asgard II - Last Pictures

by Michael Lavery, Herald/ Sail-World on 26 Sep 2008
Asgard II last moments digitally enhanced by French Customs aircraft SW

As the sailing world of Ireland grieves for the loss of their national sailing training vessel, the Asgard II, which Sail-World Cruising reported sunk off the coast of France in the Bay of Biscay earlier this month, a French Customs aircraft took these photos of her dramatic last moments.

She was only 11 nautical miles off Belle Ile, and all 25 people, including 20 trainees were saved as they took to life rafts and were rescued by the French Navy, life boats and a Dauphin helicopter.
A Lynx helicopter form the French Navy frigate, Trouville, which was 135km away, also raced to the scene.

It had been sailing from Falmouth to La Rochelle when the brigantine was found to be sinking, with the crew, alerted by a bilge alarm in the early hours of the morning, unaware of the cause. It is now thought that she may have struck a submerged object. Captain Colm Newport gave the orders to abandon ship soon afterwards.

The Asgard II was built in Arklow in 1981, and ironically, one of the ships that came to her rescue was a commercial vessel, Arklow Venus, which was nearby at the time.

The cause of the sinking is being investigated by the Marine Casualty Investigation Board in co-operation with French authorities.

No decision has yet been made on salvaging the wreck from the water or rebuilding it, the Dept of Defence said. The Dept is awaiting a report from the insurance assessor, a spokesperson said.

The Asgard had been used as a training vessel for many hundreds of young and old sailors since she became a training vessel, and since her sinking there has been an outpouring of grief by the Irish sailing public, calling for her salvage or replacement.

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