Efforts to retrieve bodies of lost crewmen.
Efforts are to be made to raise the Scottish trawler Nancy Glen that sank last month with the loss of two of her crew of three, reports Tim Oliver.
Above: Cabinet Secretaries Fergus Ewing and Michael Russell who were especially thanked by CFA ‘for their humanity and direct involvement with the families’.
The Scottish government will work with salvage specialists and the families of the crewmen to support efforts to retrieve the bodies of the missing fishermen, and will pay the costs of the operation.
Nancy Glen sank in Loch Fyne last month within sight of Tarbert, where the families of the crew live. The missing crewmen are Duncan MacDougall and Przemek Krawczyk, and their bodies are thought to be inside the boat.
The MAIB has carried out a survey of the vessel using a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) and multi-beam sonar scans and has established its position (Fishing News, 15 February, ‘Underwater surveys carried out on Tarbert trawler Nancy Glen’). She is in 143m of water and is sitting at an angle, on muddy ground.
The MAIB has said it now has enough information to establish the reasons for the sinking, and will not be attempting any salvage operation.
But the families of the lost crewmen are desperate for the bodies of the two men to be recovered, and the Scottish government has agreed to examine whether the vessel can be lifted from its position to enable recovery.
This would mean raising the vessel to a position just below the surface to allow divers to enter and operate as safely as possible.
Fisheries Secretary Fergus Ewing said it had been ‘a deeply distressing time’ for the families of the men.
He said: “In these tragic and extremely exceptional circumstances, with the Nancy Glen having been lost within sight of the family homes and the wider community, it is only right that the Scottish government intervenes and works with the families and salvage experts to search the vessel.
“The money raised through crowdfunding can go to the families rather than the recovery operation.”
Mr Ewing said the recovery operation would pose ‘serious logistical challenges’ and would need to be undertaken with the safety of divers and others involved uppermost in mind.
“This has been an upsetting time for all those involved, but we owe it to the families of the fishermen who were lost to mount this operation.
“And while there is no guarantee of a successful outcome, I hope our intervention will help bring some closure to the families and friends of Mr MacDougall and Mr Krawczyk.”
The Clyde Fishermen’s Association (CFA) and Trust, which have been closely involved in the events, gave their heartfelt thanks to all who had offered their support, and to the Scottish government. The association said in a statement: “On behalf of the families, the fishing community and the wider community nationally and worldwide who have offered their boundless support, we offer our eternal thanks. We have been humbled by your efforts and assistance.
“Our greatest thanks go to the Scottish government for their commitment to make every effort to retrieve our fishermen and bring them home to rest in Tarbert with their families, friends and community.
“We understand this operation may not be successful, but we are assured of their promise to do all they safely can to achieve this task.”
The CFA also thanked all politicians and parties for their support alongside that of ‘an excellent team of senior civil servants, who have worked tirelessly with us to reach this point’.
There were too many politicians to thank individually, but the CFA especially thanked Cabinet Secretaries Fergus Ewing and Michael Russell ‘for their humanity and direct involvement with the families. We will not forget everyone’s kindness – the best of people has been witnessed in the worst of times for the families and communities’.
CFA secretary Elaine Whyte said it was ‘a massive relief’ that the Scottish government had agreed to pay for the operation. The likely cost looked set to greatly exceed original quotes because it would be much more complicated than at first thought.
“There are safety issues because of the position and angle of the vessel,” she told Fishing News.
“It’s stuck in mud at an angle, in 143m of water, so the operation to raise it will be very difficult and complicated and will take longer than we expected.”
She said that although the MAIB had been criticised for not raising the boat, they had been ‘very cooperative’.
“They were satisfied from their sonar survey as to why the accident happened, so there was no reason for them to lift the vessel – they’re not in the business of recovering bodies.
“They have shared all the sonar and other survey information with us, and that’s allowed us to move forward very quickly.”
She said it was impossible to say when the operation would begin because it was entirely dependent on the weather, but the government were looking to begin as soon as possible.
“We’re not so far behind where we had hoped to be, but every hour that passes is difficult for the families,” said Elaine Whyte.
“We’ve had immense support, it’s been really humbling, and the families have been humbled as well by the support they’ve had. They are so touched by everything people have done – they couldn’t thank people enough.”
The Nancy Glen Campaign set up by the Clyde Fishermen’s Trust had raised in excess of £250,000 as Fishing News went to press. With the Scottish government now paying for the costs of recovery, this money can now go to the families of the crewmen.
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