28/02/2002

Royal Navy deploy minesweeper to search off Kilkeel

Following appeals for help, the Royal Navy have assigned a second ship, HMS Bangor, to the search for missing Kilkeel fishing vessel the Tullaghmurray Lass.

The Royal Navy withdrew HMS Bridport from the search on Tuesday February 26, but local people appealed for further assistance as Irish Navy vessel Le Eithne continued to scour the area for traces of the missing vessel and the three members of Greene family who were aboard her.

Given clear weather it is expected that the two vessels will have covered the entire search area in around three days.

Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Brid Rodgers has announced that investigators from the Marine Accident Investigation branch have taken paint samples from a vessel docked in Warrenpoint the day the vessel vanished, which will be used for comparison if and when the Tullaghmurray Lass is discovered. With no paint samples currently available investigators have no evidence either to rule the vessel in or out of the ongoing accident investigation.

The search, which has been underway for 13 days, has involved dozens of local vessels and both Irish and Royal Navy ships, but has so far failed to discover any trace of the boat nor of the three members of the Greene family who were aboard.

Eight-year-old Michael Greene, his 32-year-old father and 54-year-old grandfather, both also called Michael failed to return from a prawn fishing expedition.

Ironically the trip was to have been the last before the boat was decommissioned.

(GB)

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