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Willie Johnston reports
"The cameras may determine whether the bodies are on board"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 18 January, 2000, 19:30 GMT
Cameras film sunken trawler

Solway Harvester The vessel sank with loss of all hands

Remote-controlled cameras have been searching the wreck of the Solway Harvester, which sank a week ago in the Irish Sea with the loss of its seven crew.

Two Marine Accident Investigation Branch investigators and police officers were able to look at the pictures on board a survey ship, the Mansal 18.

They are trying to find out why the trawler went down in poor weather conditions 11 miles off the Isle of Man and are looking for the fishermen's bodies.

We need to know the conditions down there so we can determine what kind of equipment we need and whether it is physically possible to remove the bodies
Chief Inspector Dudley Butt
The wreck has been identified by a Royal Navy warship and is lying in about 100 feet of water on the sea bed, 11 miles east of Douglas on the Isle of Man.

The Mansal 18, which was used by the MAIB during its underwater survey of the Hull trawler Gaul in the Barents Sea during August 1998, left Douglas with two MAIB investigators and an Isle of Man police officer on board on Tuesday morning.

Lying on starboard side

One of the investigators, Inspector Cliff Brand, said: "We'll see very good video pictures and will see as much round the hull as we possibly can.

"We believe the ship is lying on its starboard side so that may entail an operation to pull her from her starboard side to the port side."

Cliff Brand Insp. Cliff Brand: "We'll see very good video pictures"
An Isle of Man police officer, who is also an experienced seaman, is with the MAIB investigators on the Mansel 18 and will try to determine whether the bodies are still on board.

If they are, the authorities will then decide how best to recover the men.

Chief Inspector Dudley Butt of the Isle of Man Constabulary said: "One of our men has gone on the ship as an observer and if the bodies are seen we will then find people who have the capability of getting them out or raising the vessel.

Inquest to follow

"It really depends on the situation at the scene, there are tidal problems and problems of visibility so we really have to wait and see.

"We need to know the conditions down there so we can determine what kind of equipment we need and whether it is physically possible to remove the bodies."

Mansal 18 aerial The Mansal 18 is on location
CI Butt said that if they find the men and take them off the ship the bodies will be brought back to the Isle of Man where their families will identify them. An inquest will follow.

He said police liaison officers from his force, who are in Scotland and have been assigned to the bereaved families, will keep them up to date with what is happening.

Relatives are scheduled to travel to the Isle of Man later in the week where they will be on hand for first news of the survey's results.

UK law on sunken vessels usually means that the bodies of victims are not recovered.

However, Isle of Man officials, acting on the directions of the island coroner, said that Manx legislation differed and allowed for the bodies to be retrieved.

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Trawler sinking
The unfolding of the Solway Harvester story

See also:
16 Jan 00 |  Scotland
Tears and prayers for lost fishermen
15 Jan 00 |  Scotland
Trawler wreckage positively identified
13 Jan 00 |  Scotland
Solway Harvester: The crew

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