Search continues for crew of overturned cargo ship

Shipping company confirms eight members on board vessel in northern Scotland

A cargo ship has sunk below the water as coastguards continue the search for the eight members of its crew.

A major search effort was mounted after the upturned hull of the Cypriot-registered Cemfjord was spotted in the waters of the Pentland Firth in the north of Scotland.

A spokeswoman for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) said: “The vessel is no longer visible.”

“The coastguard rescue teams are still searching and the helicopters are still up. So the search is still going on.”


She said there had not been any sign of the missing crew but that “every effort” was being made to find them.

The search was sparked after the crew of a passenger ferry raised the alarm when they spotted the upturned hull of the vessel in the Pentland Firth.

German shipping company Brise of Hamburg confirmed that there were eight people on the ship, seven Poles and one Filipino, and that there had been no distress call.

The 83-metre bulk cement carrier had been bound for Runcorn, Cheshire, on the west coast of Britain.

Coastguard alerted

The Shetland coastguard was alerted by a NorthLink ferry which spotted the vessel around 10 miles east of the Pentland Skerries, about 15 miles from Wick.

Passenger Caitlin Ditchfield told reporters: “We realised we had actually stopped. Looking out the window my sister noticed the hull of this giant ship, sort of out of the ocean.

“We didn’t move for a while from when we saw it. The captain gave an announcement to say they had contacted the coastguard, that we were actually the first to come across this, and they had asked us to start conducting a search for any debris or any lifeboats.”

She said it had been “quite a rough crossing” but added that conditions were “not too bad” when they spotted the overturned vessel.

“We were there for about two and a half hours. As we left . . . it was completely black, dark outside and the weather conditions were quite bad.”