The Navy Diving unit have, this morning, recovered the body of missing Wexford fisherman, Willie Whelan (41) from the trawler on which he was fishing.

The recovery of Mr Whelan brings to an end a nearly three week wait for his family, friends and the community of the south-east coast.

Mr Whelan has been missing since Saturday, 4 January, when his scallop dredger, ‘Alize’ sank suddenly at sometime around 10.30pm, without a distress call being made.

Mr Whelan was accompanied on board by crewmate and friend, Joe Sinnott, (65).

Mr Sinnotts body was recovered from the sea in the early hours of Sunday, 5 January after an alert was received by MRCC Dublin for an Emergency Position-Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) activated in the vicinity of Hook Head, Co Wexford.


The crew commenced winching Mr Sinnott from the water. Mr Sinnott was then recovered to awaiting ambulances at Waterford airport where he was rushed to University Hospital Waterford. R117 returned immediately to search for a second casualty.

Unfortunately, on arrival at University Hospital Waterford further attempts at resuscitation failed it was announced later that Mr Sinnott had passed away.

Since then, rescue efforts have been concentrating on finding the wreck of the ‘Alize’ and the recovery of Mr Whelan. It was suspected that his remains were inside the boat until Wednesday, when divers from Hook Head Sub Aqua Club confirmed they discovered a body in the hull of the sunken trawler ‘Alize’.

Irish Navy divers had returned to to scene yesterday (Thursday) and began the difficult recovery procedure.

They carried out a number of dives in the afternoon, having deployed a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) to capture footage of the wreck on the seabed. Late yesterday evening they suspended operations for the night.

Dives got under way again this morning, with up to 15 divers Navy Divers using the Irish Lights Vessel, Granuaile as a base.

The naval vessel, LÉ Samuel Beckett, assisted with operations along with Gardaí and the Irish Coast Guard.

Today’s recovery brings to a close the 20-day search which has involved the Irish Coast Guard, the RNLI, the Irish Navy and local fishermen, along with the Irish Navy Section Diving Service and the Gardaí.

Missing Wexford fisherman recovered from wreck of trawler

by editor time to read: 8 min