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Search for Conwy fishermen continues into second week

A picture of the Nicola Faith fishing boat at the harbour last year (via Roger Fox)

By Sam Portillo | News Editor

The extensive search for three fishermen who were last seen off Rhos-on-Sea has continued into its second week.

The Nicola Faith fishing boat was expected back at midnight on Wednesday 27 January. It was reported missing to the HM Coastguard just over 10 hours later, on Thursday morning, at which point the emergency services were contacted.

The vessel was boarded by 20 year old Alan Minard, 39 year old Ross Ballantine and 34 year old skipper, Carl McGrath. Mr Minard’s family believe that the crew were dropping lobster pots at the time they went missing, a clue they hope will narrow the breadth of the search.

The Coastguard reassigned rescue teams from nearby Rhyl, Bangor and Llandudno to assist in the search, also resourcing lifeboats from Conwy. Paul Frost, a volunteer for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution in Rhyl, explained that the search demands a lot of resources because of the uncertainty in the boat’s most recent location. “It is literally hundreds of square miles. The area searched is something like 30 miles across, by about 15 miles out, as well. That’s why so many resources have been utilised, to try and search the area adequately,” he said.

The rescue mission endured through Tuesday until approximately 9pm, when the in-shore lifeboats, helicopter and fixed-wing plane were recalled. The all-weather lifeboats stayed at sea longer into the night, but to no avail.

As is always the case when individuals are reported missing, the local police force were also involved in the response. The friends of the fishermen assisted rescue teams on the coastline search for debris, in the case that the boat capsized and broke apart.

Mr McGrath’s girlfriend, Amy Lamb, told reporters she was “heartbroken”. “I just want him to be home and safe,” she said.

Local boatowners have also remained vigilant while at sea and will communicate with the emergency services in the event of any developments.

After Mr McGrath’s sister appealed for information on social media, she was subjected to a sick prank, with a caller from Australia claiming they had “shot the boat down”.

“This is absolutely disgusting that anyone would prank call making a joke about the situation,” a member of the family posted on Facebook.

The rescue teams and locals continue to tirelessly search for the three men, but everyone involved knows that results must come soon.

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