Trainee sailors who were on board the Asgard II when it sank off the coast of France, arrive in Dublin Airport and speak about their ordeal.

The Asgard II sank about 32km off the French coastline and the 20 trainees and five crew members on board the traditionally rigged ship were safely evacuated and rescued by life rafts by the French coastguard, after the vessel went down.

The sailors, who were greeted by relieved family members waiting in Dublin Airport, were conspicuous by their lack of luggage. However sail trainees Katie Campbell and Holly Byrne had nothing but praise for how professionally and swiftly the evacuation and rescue was handled. The whole evacuation took about five minutes.

It was so well handled, all the training that was put in during the week paid off.

Holly’s mother Maria Quigley said,

It was a bit of a shock when she rang at six o’clock in the morning, she assured us that she was safe and we were relieved then.

Sixteen year old Holly Clarke from Tuam had just finished her watch and was in bed when the rescue operation began.

I didn’t even realise what had happened.

Minister for Defence Willie O'Dea says he will be providing the sail trainees with counselling and any other assistance they may require to help them recover from their ordeal.

It has not been confirmed what caused the Asgard II to sink.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 12 September 2008. The reporter is Joe O'Brien.