Two crewmen have died and another is missing following a collision between two cargo ships in Dublin Bay.

The collision between the B&I Line container vessel the MV Kilkenny and a German-owned ship the Hasselwerder which is on lease to B&I took place around 10 o'clock last night at the mouth of Dublin Bay.

The Kilkenny was heading into port with a cargo of chemicals while the Hasselwerder was departing Dublin Port for Antwerp. The circumstances which caused this tragedy in which two men, bosun David Harding and crewman David Keogh have died remains a mystery. A third crew member is still missing.

A rescue operation began at 10 o'clock last night following a mayday call from the Kilkenny. A major air and sea search was carried out today by Aer Corps helicopters who were joined by an RAF (Royal Air Force) seaplane, with the LE Aoife coordinating the operation at sea. Despite what is probably the largest search ever mounted in Dublin Bay, hopes were fading tonight of finding the last missing third crewman alive.

The Garda Sub Aqua Unit and RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution) lifeboats have also assisted in the rescue operation, Harbour Master Captain Enda Connellan told RTÉ News.

Investigations by the Department of the Marine, and an internal investigation by B&I Line have commenced. Dublin Port Authority will also conduct its own investigation. Jim Kennedy Chief Executive of B&I Line is confident that the facts will be established, but,

Until all those results are known, we won't be in a position to say what happened.

An unidentified crew member who spoke to RTÉ News by telephone describes the incident,

There was a big bang…we couldn't launch the lifeboat, so we just had to jump over the side.

The crewman was at a loss to understand why the Hasselwerder which was in a stable condition failed to launch one of its lifeboats, despite calls for help from the men in the water.

B&I Line have called in Dutch company Smit International to oversee the salvage operation which begins tomorrow.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 22 November 1991. The reporter is Peter Cluskey.