Salvage experts will today meet the surveyors for the insurer of Dutch sail training ship, Astrid to put together a wreck removal plan to salvage the ship which sank off the Co Cork coast on Wednesday.
Salvage expert, Colm Harrington carried out a dive on the Astrid yesterday to assess the damage to the vessel which sank after hitting the Sovereign Rocks near the mouth of Kinsale Harbour after losing engine power around midday on Wednesday.
Mr Harrington said it should be possible to salvage the 95-year oldship as she remains intact apart from some rips along her hull where rivetted plates popped open when she struck the rocky shoreline after hitting the rocks.
“Her bow is in about ten metres of water and her stern is in about a metre of water and she’s pretty much intact apart from those rivets that have popped on some of her plates so it will be possible to salvage her,” he said.
“The job will involve getting slings under her and lifting her with specialist equipment because with she’s a heavy ship - 254 tonnes and with all the water inside her, you’d need the slings underneath to provide the support - we have to do now is agree wreck removal plan with the insurance surveyors”.
Mr Harrington said he had spoken with the owner and skipper Pieter de Kam and showed him a video of the damage and they agreed that it was unlikely that the Astrid could be repaired to continue as a sail training vessel.
“We showed the video footage we had to the owner and he was in agreement that he wouldn’t be able to repair it - it would have to be repaired to a very high standard to continue bringing people out on sail training and I don’t think it would be possible to do that.
“It’s a pity because she’s a magnificent ship - she was finished to a very high standard and looked immaculate down to the paintwork - there was a lot of money spent on her about ten years ago after a fire so it’s just very sad to see her now lying on the seabed,” he said.
Mr Harrington explained that if a wreck removal plan is agreed with the ship’s insurers, it will then have to submitted to the Irish Coastguard for approval and while it may prove a complex operation, the aim is to try and begin the removal as soon as possible.
Lieut Cdr Terry Ward of the Naval Service patrol ship LE Róisín, which maintained a 200m exclusion zone around the hull for safety purposes, said the hull was fast aground, with little movement in a half to one metre swell.
The 42m steel square-rigger was "holding fast" on rocks at Ballymacus point off the mouth of Oysterhaven harbour, where weather conditions had eased considerably, Lt Commander Ward said.