THE wreck of the Solway Harvester is due to be scrapped sometime in the new year, it’s been confirmed.
Infrastructure Minister David Cretney MHK told the house of Keys in June that his department wanted to begin the process of disposing of the vessel as soon as is practical, given the ‘increasing concern and potential risk’ that it poses.
Seven crewmen lost their lives when the Kirkcudbright-based scallop dredger sank in stormy seas in January 2000.
It was 11 miles off the Isle of Man, trying to head for the shelter of Ramsey Bay, when disaster struck.
Skipper Craig Mills, 29, Robin Mills, 33, David Mills, 17, Martin Milligan, 26, John Murphy, 22, David Lyons, 18, and Wesley Jolly, 17, all lost their lives.
The Manx government paid for the vessel to be recovered from the seabed and the wreck has languished in Douglas harbour ever since, during various legal wrangles and during the inquiry into the deaths of the fishermen, who were all from the Isle of Whithorn.
Director of harbours Mike Brew told the Examiner that he had written to the families’ solicitor in June explaining that the department was minded to begin the process of disposing of the vessel with a view to scrapping it in the new year.
He said: ‘It’s still the department’s intention to look at disposing of the vessel some time in the new year. The department owns the vessel outright but we want to find a reasonable accommodation with the families.
‘I intend to write to them again because we are not going to do anything without asking them. We want to allow the families to decide what they want to do.’
Captain Brew said the preferred method of disposal was scrapping the wreck on the island.
In May 2005, boat owner Richard Gidney was cleared of manslaughter after his trial collapsed.
Relatives of the victims are still pursuing civil court actions over the tragedy.
Verdicts of accidental death by drowning were recorded at the inquests into the deaths of the seven crewmen. The then Coroner Michael Moyle concluded the precise reason for the sinking could not be known because of the conflicting views of experts.
Family spokesman the Reverend Alex Currie has said they would not wish to see the Solway Harvester being a hindrance to the island’s economic well-being and they understood the Minister’s position.
But he pointed out the fact that civil proceedings are still ongoing had to be borne in mind.
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Weather for Isle of Man
Saturday 25 May 2013
Temperature: 7 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 16 mph
Wind direction: South
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