The scene of the search for Rescue 116 last week. Eamonn Farrell/

No dives as weather disrupts search for Rescue 116

Captain Mark Duffy, winch operator Paul Ormsby and winchman Ciarán Smith remain missing.

THERE HAVE BEEN no dives in the search for Rescue 116 today as weather hampers the operation aimed at finding three missing Coast Guard members.

Teams have been searching for three missing crewmen after the helicopter crashed off the Mayo coast early last Tuesday.

The body of Captain Dara Fitzpatrick was recovered on Tuesday, but her crewmates Captain Mark Duffy, winch operator Paul Ormsby and winchman Ciarán Smith remain missing.

A spokesperson this afternoon confirmed that poor weather is hampering the search and has meant that naval dives have been unable to be carried out at the Black Rock lighthouse, near where the helicopter is believed to have crashed.

The naval vessel LÉ Eithne and the Commissioner of Irish Lights vessel Granuaile are in Blacksod Harbour this afternoon.

Crews involved in the search are today analysing the results of a mapping exercise carried out yesterday.

That exercise is informing the plan for the search.

A statement from the Defence Forces this evening said it had 80 Army, Air Corps and Naval Service personnel, along with a ship and aircraft, deployed as part of the multi-agency search operation.

A Remote Operated Vehicle (ROV), a Recompression Chamber and other specialist Naval Diving Section equipment have been transferred to Galway where they have been embarked upon the Commissioner of Irish Lights’ ship Granuaile. Granuaile has subsequently transported the equipment to the Area of Operations off Blacksod Bay.

Should conditions allow, this equipment will enable Naval Service Divers to conduct deep and sustained diving operations in the vicinity of Blackrock.

Air Corps assets, including a CASA CN235 Maritime Patrol Aircraft and an AW 139 Helicopter, have also been made available. The CASA CN235 has been assisting in the visual search for R116 and her crew. The AW 139 is providing aerial assistance to the AAIU.

Speaking to Morning Ireland today, the Captain of the LÉ Eithne, Naval Commander Brian Fitzgerald said the conditions were “frustrating”, but that “safety is paramount”.

It is hoped that the Granuaile can be used as a platform for dives if the weather improves.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny today visited the site and met with volunteers involved in the search.

Read: Miscommunication over severity of fisherman’s injury responsible for last journey of R116

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