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1968: Trawler sinks - 18 feared dead

Another trawler from Hull has sunk off the coast of Iceland, with all hands on board - it is the third in three weeks.

The Ross Cleveland went down in Isafjord, an inlet on the north-west cape of Iceland, in a force 12 gale with a crew of 19.

Only one body has been recovered so far, according to authorities in Reykjavik.

Over the past three weeks 60 lives have been lost on British fishing boats in Arctic waters as Iceland is battered by the worst storms since 1925.

The 659-ton Ross Cleveland was riding out the hurricane with seven other trawlers.

Distress signals

Hull coastguards last heard from the Captain, Phil Gay, more than an hour and a half before the boat disappeared when he reported the "atrocious" weather conditions.

Mr Gay, 41, did not have time to transmit a formal distress signal but radioed to nearby boat Kingston Almadine.

He was reported as saying: "Will you come closer? We are over-icing."

And minutes later: "I am going. Give my love and the crew's love to their wives and families."

Minutes later the boat vanished from the radar and her lights were no longer visible.

A spokesman for Ross Cleveland owners', Hudson Brothers, said: "There appears to be no hope at all, we have to face up to it. It is appalling."

He said their boat - built in 1949 - was maintained to the highest standard and was equipped with three new inflatable life-rafts and two lifeboats.

The trawler had left Hull on 20 January with a crew of 20 - the cook had flown back because of illness.

Icelandic gunboat Odinn - made infamous during the Cod War - rescued 18 survivors from the Notts County - another Hull trawler - which had run aground at a cost of one life.

The 40 men on board the missing trawlers Kingston Peridot and St Romanus are now presumed to be dead.

In Context
Two days later the mate from the Ross Cleveland was found alive by an Icelandic farmer.

Harry Eddon, 35, was washed ashore and found his way to shelter.

His survival in Arctic conditions amazed doctors.

He was the only survivor and said his boat had capsized because of the rough sea, not because ice had over-weighted it - as suspected by many experts.

A group of wives of Hull fishermen went to London to petition the Government to improve safety laws on trawlers.

The Board of Trade began preliminary investigations into instating a closed season off the Icelandic coast.

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