Tenders sought for salvaging fishing vessel


The Coast Guard is seeking tenders for the salvage of the 26ft lobster boat, Rising Sun, lying on the seabed off the Co Wexford coast.

Deadline for the tender competition is January 6th, and companies recommended by the International Salvage Union have already been contacted to try to ensure that the contract is awarded speedily.

A number of Irish companies which have previous experience of salvage have also been notified of the contract, which involves raising the vessel "intact" and delivering it to a "predesignated place in Ireland". The task must be completed "as soon as possible, having regard to the deepwater location" of the vessel and health and safety requirements, the tender document states.

The decision to raise the vessel was taken after an appeal by the families of three men who died as a result of the boat's capsize and sinking off the Saltee islands on November 29th. The body of skipper Pat Colfer, one of the boat's two crew who perished, has still not been recovered, and his family believe the vessel should be raised and searched thoroughly.

A third man, diver Billy O'Connor, died on his return from a search of the boat lying in some 52 metres of water, two days after the sinking. His body was found subsequently by the Naval Service some 20 metres from the wreck.

However, there has been no sign of Mr Colfer's body in spite of extensive shore and sea searches by the Coast Guard air, sea and shore units, the Naval Service and RNLI lifeboats.

The tender document says that the vessel is to be raised to check if the body of the missing crew man is on board, and to report on the condition and securing arrangements of on-board emergency position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB) and liferaft.

The absence of a reliable EPIRB signal delayed location of the vessel after the capsize and sinking.

A report by the Naval Service which accompanies the tender document says that the vessel is lying almost upright, to starboard against its bilge keel, in about 52 metres of water.

The wheelhouse is intact with no obvious damage, and the hull also appears to be intact, the report states, but there is considerable debris, including pots, to port and off the stern.

Visibility varied from less than a metre to a maximum of three metres, and slack tides allowed a window of no more than 90 minutes of diving, the Naval Service says.

Dives and remotely operated vehicle operations which took place outside of slack tides noted a "strong run" or current on the seabed, with sediment reducing visibility further, the report says.

The Marine Casualty Investigation Board has said it does not need the vessel to be salvaged for its inquiry.