A health and safety investigation is underway into the cause of an accident at Galway Harbour yesterday in which three men were injured after a cable snapped on a crane while a former Aran islands ferry was being hoisted onto a cargo ship.
Onlookers were shocked by the incident in which one of two large cables on the Thor Gitta cargo ship snapped, plunging the stern of the former Aran Direct ferry back into the water from a height of about nine metres.
Three men from South Connemara were on board the Clann na nOileain ferry at the time the accident occurred and were rushed within minutes to University Hospital Galway where they were treated for minor injuries.
It is understood part of the brief of the investigation may include a probe into why the men were on board the vessel at the time.
But the accident could have been disastrous had it happened a few feet later when the ferry would have been over the cargo ship which had come to collect it and which had a number of crew aboard.
The Danish registered Thor Gitta had been brought to Galway in order to collect the Clann na nOileain and its sister ship, Clan Eagle 1, which had been sold off to foreign buyers after passenger ferry company Aran Islands Direct went out of business.
The incident occurred less than a week after another ship ran aground in South Connemara after it was also brought to Rossaveal in order to collect the two aluminium ferries, which have been sold off at a fraction of their cost price to a company in Mauritius. .
Although the two ferries, now being branded as ‘jinxed’, were built at a cost of between €5m and €6m, their owner Jimmy Clancy ran into financial difficulties and they were sold off after being withdrawn from an auction in Galway.
The Chief Executive of the Galway Harbour Board, Eamon Bradshaw, said he was watching the ferry being hoisted onto the cargo ship from his office when the accident occurred.
“They were about to drop it down into the hold and I would say the ferry was about 30 feet up,” said Mr Bradshaw. “Next minute I could see the ropes slipping and it tumbled into the water. The lifting cable just snapped.
“It was very lucky that the ferry was not over the cargo ship at the time, as there would have been huge damage. Once the ferry fell, it was in free-flow. There were three guys on the boat and the emergency services were here within minutes.
“You can replace boats. Thankfully, nobody was badly injured.”
Category: Accident Report