Leading Journal of the Irish & UK Fishing Industries

New Super Star For Castletownbere

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A large crowd gathered at Castletownbere at the end of May to celebrate the arrival of the new Sparkling Star to her home port.

The vessel was met by the traditional welcoming flotilla of local trawlers in Berehaven Sound and berthed at Dinish Island pier to be met by families and friends.

The Sparkling Star is the latest vessel for the O’Neill family and the first new-build for Donal and sons, Alan and Kieran

The 31 metre  Sparkling Star D-437 has a beam of 8.70 metres and accommodation for a crew of up to eight in four cabins. The vessel was designed as a RSW pelagic trawler with the option of converting to demersal trawling for whitefish if required.

The hull of the  Sparkling Star was built in Gdansk and brought to Killybegs for outfitting and commissioning by Mooney Boats Ltd.

Speaking to The Skipper, Lee Mooney Mooney Boats Ltd, said they were delighted with the completion of one of the yards largest projects to date.

“We are proud to have acted as the shipyard for this new build, working closely with the naval architect, Ove Kristensen from Vestvaerftet in Denmark, and the companies in the Killybegs Marine Cluster, who provided essential support to ensure that these vessel was completed to the highest standard.

We are thrilled to have completed this impressive vessel, and we are grateful to the O’Neill family for entrusting us with their project, from the design through to the construction stage.

This vessel is an Irish family-run business, keeping the tradition of fishing alive, with future generations lined up to continue their legacy, It is a commitment to the Irish fishing industry and will the family to take advantage of the abundant fishing grounds in the Atlantic Ocean for many years to come.

 We take great pride in delivering high-quality vessels that meet the needs of our clients, and this project is no exception, Sparkling Star is equipped with state-of-the-art fishing equipment and modern technology to ensure efficient and sustainable fishing practices and modern efficient power solutions to reduce running costs and increase efficiency.

Mooney Boats Ltd is looking forward to continuing its work with the companies of the Killybegs Marine Cluster, which has played a vital role in the success of this project. The company remains committed to providing excellent services to its customers and is confident that the Sparkling Star will serve the O’Neill and family and their next generation well for many years to come.

The Mooney Family and Mooney Boats Ltd Management & Staff would like to pass on our “Very Best Wishes” to the crew of Sparkling Star  and may they have many years of safe fruitful fishing into the future.”

Engine Room

The vessel has an ABC 6DZC main engine driving a 3380mm propeller via its Nogva Heimdal gearbox, fitted with a shaft generator to provide electrical power via the PTO, enabling the main engine to be the primary power source when not operating under heavy load.

The  four-stroke 6-cylinder line  engine is characterized by low fuel and lube oil consumption, resulting in an exceptionally low life-cycle cost

Additional power is supplied by 2 Scania DI09 auxiliaries and a smaller Deutz genset. The electrical systems utilise a variable frequency (60-50Hz), reducing the fuel consumption considerably.

Deck Machinery

SeaQuest Systems, a leading provider of innovative maritime solutions delivered a state-of-the-art hydraulic winch package for the Sparkling Star.

Designed to enhance operational efficiency and productivity, the hydraulic winch package from SeaQuest Systems is a comprehensive suite of equipment tailored specifically for the demands of pelagic trawling. This advanced package equips the Sparkling Star with cutting-edge technology, ensuring seamless operations and unmatched performance during fishing expeditions.

The hydraulic winch package features a range of meticulously engineered components, including two 28-ton trawl winches. Equipped with grooved drums for effortless spooling and an impressive wire capacity of 1200ftm of 24mm wire, these winches provide the crew with enhanced control and ease of use.

In addition to the trawl winches, SeaQuest Systems supplied a 28-ton Topline Winch and a 28-ton Tail Line Winch, both designed to handle the rigorous demands of pelagic trawling. These reliable winches contribute to the vessel’s overall efficiency and safety during fishing operations.

To further enhance functionality, the package includes two 35-ton Net Drums, a 15-ton Net Drum, a Net Sounder Winch, a Gilson Winch, and an Anchor Winch with two wire drums. These components, powered by the hydraulic system operated from electro-hydraulic powerpacks, facilitate seamless operation of cranes, winches, stern doors, and bow thrusters, enabling the crew to efficiently manoeuvre the vessel.

With the inclusion of a separate hydraulic system dedicated to the fish pump operation, SeaQuest Systems ensures optimal performance and reliability. The package boasts the highly regarded 14-inch fish pump, accompanied by a hydraulic hose reel and a pump-thru fish hose reel.

To further augment functionality, SeaQuest Systems has integrated wheelhouse controls for all winches, including a sophisticated shoot/haul system with wire counting for seamless operation of the trawl winches. This feature enhances precision and control, allowing the crew to optimize their trawling operations effectively.

The hydraulic winch package also includes a Knuckle-Boom Crane for vessel discharging, complete with radio control, and a Powerblock Crane designed for easy loading of blocks from the deck.

SeaQuest Systems, a trusted name in maritime equipment manufacturing, takes great pride in delivering cutting-edge solutions to meet the unique needs of the fishing industry. The company’s commitment to excellence and dedication to innovation make them the ideal partner for vessels seeking to optimize their performance and productivity.

The SeaQuest Systems hydraulic winch package installed on the Sparkling Star showcases the company’s expertise in developing tailored solutions for pelagic trawlers. By equipping the O’Neill family’s vessel with this advanced technology, SeaQuest Systems reaffirms its position as a market leader in delivering high-quality, reliable, and efficient maritime solutions.


Barry Electronics supplied and fitted a comprehensive electronics package to  the Sparkling Star

2 x Furuno FAR1518 X Band Type Approved Radars
1 x Furuno NXT Solid State X Band Radar

Furuno FSV25 Low Frequency Sonar
Furuno FSV 85 Medium Frequency Sonar
Furuno FSV 75 High Frequency Sonar

Echo Sounders
Furuno FCV1900L Broadband Sounder with multi frequency transducer
JRC JFV130 BB Echo Sounder
Simrad ES80 with C-All Multifrequency Transducer
WASSP F3X High Power Multibeam Echo Sounder
Furuno CI68 Tide Machine

Net Monitoring
Simrad FS70 330/200 kHz trawl sonar system
Marport M3 Trawl Monitoring System
2 x Marport Catch Sensors
1 x Marport TE150W Tunnel Sensor

2 x Sodena Easy Win Plotters with Tides, AIS and ARPA
Max Sea Time Zero V4 Chart Plotter 1 connected to WASSP system
Simrad AP70 Mk2 Autopilot System
Simrad A2004 Back up Autopilot
Navitron Watch Alarm
1 x Furuno GP33 GPS Navigator
1 x Furuno SC70 Satellite Gyro Compass
1 x Hemisphere Sat Compass for WASS

2 x Sailor RT6210 working VHF
Jotron 60S Float Free EPIRB
2 x Jotron AIS SART’s
Furuno NX700B Navtex
3 x Icom GM1600E GMDSS Handhelds
Victron Skyalla 30 GMDSS Charger
Victron Battery Monitoring Panel
Furuno PR300 GMDSS Automatic Power Supply
Furuno FA170 AIS Transponder

HD CCTV System with 24 cameras
Propellor Camera
BEL VSAT System for Wi Fi and Voice Calls
Phonetech 3100 10 Station Approved Intercom System
Furuno LH5000 Loudhailer with 2 extn speakers
Intellian t80Q Satellite TV System
FM Car Radio in Wheelhouse
AVI Tech MS6 Video Matrix System connected to 4 x Samsung 50” monitors
15” Beijur touch screen control panel for video system

KER Group were awarded the contract to install a complete RSW system, Vacuum Pump Landing System, Air-Conditioning system & a Walk-in Chill Room & Freezer Room on the Sparkling Star

  • Installation of a new 450KW RSW System at -1° chilled sea water.
  • Installation of a new Compact Vacuum Pump Landing system incorporating 2 x Samson Ocean Master 1000’s with the equivalent of a 3000 Litre tank.
  • Fit Fujitsu multi-split Air conditioning system in the wheel house, galley, accommodation and technical room.
  • Complete a fibre glass constructed walk-in chill room and freezer room with associated refrigeration system and custom built stainless steel racking for food provisions storage.

Refrigerated Sea Water System (RSW)

KER designed and installed a new 450KW RSW System which chills sea water at -1°C and uses R134a refrigerant. A polyethylene manifold was manufactured & installed to control chilled water & distribution to all fish tanks. The KER team designed & programmed a PLC which controls this system.

Vacuum Pump Landing System

KER fitted a new type of Vacuum Pump Landing System in this vessel which is a much more compact & refined solution. By incorporating the Vacuum tank into 24″ & 14″ stainless steel piping it eradicates the space needed for a Vacuum Tank with a large cubic volume.

This innovative new solution will solve problems for vessel owners where they previously couldn’t. The system fitted incorporated 2 x Samson Ocean Master 1000’s with the equivalent of a 3000 litre tank. Full automation package with PLC & touchscreen was also installed.

Air Conditioning

KER fitted a Fujitsu multi-split Air Conditioning system in the wheelhouse, galley, accommodation & technical room. Ceiling cassettes were installed in the wheelhouse. Wall mounted units were fitted in the accommodation & galley. Marine coated outdoor units were installed which can endure the conditions out at sea. The system overall provides efficient heating & cooling to the vessel’s skipper & crew.

Walk-in Chill Room & Freezer Room

The vessel had space off the Galley for a walk-in chill room & freezer room for food provisions. KER installed a heater mat underneath the floor of the freezer room to prevent frost heave. The rooms were sheeted and the walls, floor & ceiling were fibre-glassed with the customer’s colour requirement which will give the room durability and offers ease of cleaning.

A wedge type evaporator was supplied & installed to cool the room with a smart temperature controller mounted on the exterior of both rooms to manage the temperatures.

A custom stainless steel racking for food provisions was designed, manufactured & installed. Exterior mounted condenser units fitted & a custom stainless-steel housing was erected for protection against marine conditions. A heavy-duty insulated door was installed at the entrance of both rooms.

KER provided all the above systems including, all copper, stainless-steel, mild steel & polyethylene piping. All necessary coded welding for refrigeration piping. Complete electrical installation, electrical control cabinets were manufactured in KER & installed on board.

Trawl Gear

Sparkling star will utilise a suite of Midwater nets supplied by KT Nets.
This includes a KT 973 Metre M/W Trawl, KT 870 Metre Tuna M/W Trawl,  KT 580 Metre M/W Trawl and a custom KT Blue Whiting Trawl.
KT also loaded the trawl winches with 1,000 fathom 26mm Steel Core Dyform Warp and provided a range of various ropes and chandlery.


Atlantic Marine Supplies fitted the Sparkling Star out with a full complement of Safety equipment
They supplied 2 x 8 man  Liferafts 1 x Rescue boat, 8 xMullion  PFD Lifejackets with PLBs,  a full range of required Pyrotechnics and 2 x Firefighting Suits

Other Killybegs Marine Cluster companies that were involved in the build included:

MMG Ocean who fitted the vessel with a 8 metre folding gangway for crew safety and GCM painters who completed a full paint job on the Sparkling Star.
Sparkling Star will land their catch through Fast Fish LTD  and the vessel is insured by Arachas insurance.
Noel O’ Regan, Promara acted as consultant for the build and  finance was provided by AIB.
The Sparkling Star will pair trawl with Eric Murphys new build Eilean Croine from their home port of Castletownbere.

Speaking to The Skipper, Donal O’Neil was full of praise for all who contributed to the new vessel

” From the Staff at Mooney Boats, Suppliers, Designers to the local Killybegs companies and our crew and our families , we have been overwhelmed with the level of support for this new vessel”

” On behalf of myself, Alan and Kieran, I would like to say a big “Thank you” to everybody who has contributed to the Sparkling Star and especially our extended families and crew who have given us so much support over the years.”

The Skipper would like to wish Donal, Alan and Kieran, Their Families & Crew all the best for the future with the Sparkling and good fishing!