Bid to raise sunken trawler today

SALVAGE crews were today set to begin the task of rescuing from its watery grave a sunken trawler on which four fishermen died.Much depends on the weather and the complex operation is likely to take a few days, but the Flamingo II will be brought to the surface so that a full investigation can take place into why it capsized and later sank.

By Richard Cornwell

By RICHARD CORNWELL, Felixstowe editor

richard.cornwell@eveningstar.co.uk

SALVAGE crews were today set to begin the task of rescuing a sunken trawler on which four fishermen died.


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Much depends on the weather and the complex operation is likely to take a few days, but the Flamingo II will be brought to the surface so that a full investigation can take place in to why it capsized and sank.

Earlier reports had suggested that the 24ft vessel – which overturned in relatively good weather 20 miles east of Felixstowe and Harwich – might have to remain on the seabed, 160ft below the waves.

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Shipping experts said its recovery would depend on whether the owners could afford to pay to have the vessel refloated.

Salvage teams from Belgium have been at the spot where the ship sank since Tuesday, deciding how best to carry out the operation.

Investigation authorities are keen to have the vessel refloated because its condition will hold vital clues as to why the accident happened.

A spokesman for the Marine Accident Investigation Branch told the Evening Star that a full inquiry would take place.

"The fundamental purpose of the investigation is to determine the circumstances and causes of the accident with the aim of preventing a recurrence and improving the safety of life at sea," he said.

"The MAIB will be co-operating with all relevant parties including the Belgian authorities."

A 15-hour air and sea search was carried out after Thames Coastguards received a signal from an automatic satellite mayday system on the Flamingo II.

Devices on the trawler recognised that the boat was in trouble and beamed a distress message to a space satellite, but Coastguards said the capsize must have then happened very quickly as there was no time for the crew to add any details.

One body was found a mile from the vessel, floating among fishing boxes and ropes, and the other close to the upturned boat. Two men are still missing.

The crew of the Flamingo II were named as captain Michel D'Hondt, 32, Peter Coopman, 41, Franky Vanhondeghem, 38, and Michael Steenkiste, 18.

The cause of the tragedy remains a mystery, though shipping industry experts say it is possible that the trawler's nets became snagged on an old shipwreck, rocks or other seabed debris.

The crew of the Flamingo used nets attached to beams on either side of the vessel to fish the bottom of the ocean.

The MAIB investigates all types of marine accidents, both to ships and to people on board them.

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