Solway Harvester to be scrapped

The Solway Harvester is currently moored at Douglas Harbour
The Solway Harvester is currently moored at Douglas Harbour

THE wreck of the Solway Harvester scallop dredger which sank in 2000 with the loss of seven lives is to be scrapped at last.

The vessel has been moored at Douglas Harbour since the Manx Government paid £1m for its reclamaition from the seabed.

But this week, infrastructure minister David Cretney told the House of Keys that families of the seven crewmen who died are to be advised that his department wanted to begin the process of disposing of the vessel as soon as is practical, given the “increasing concern and potential risk” that it poses.

Mr Cretney said the preferred disposal method was for the boat to be broken up at Ramsey Shipyard.

Bill Henderson (Douglas North) suggested that as an interim measure the vessel should be covered or moved somewhere more appropriate “where we do not have this sombre reminder in the gateway to the Isle of Man.”

But the minister said he did not believe moving the vessel to another port around the island was a viable alternative or the‘right thing to do.

The Kirkcudbright-based boat was 11 miles off the Isle of Man when it sank in stormy waters while trying to head for the shelter of Ramsey Bay.

Skipper Craig Mills, 29, Robin Mills, 33, David Mills, 17, Martin Milligan, 26, John Murphy, 22, David Lyons, 18, and Wesley Jolly, 17, lost their lives.

She has languished in Douglas harbour ever since, during various legal wrangles and during the inquiry into the deaths of the fishermen, who were all from the Isle of Whithorn.

In May 2005, boat owner Richard Gidney was cleared of manslaughter. Relatives of the victims are still pursuing civil court actions over the tragedy.

Verdicts of accidental death by drowning were recorded at the inquests into the deaths of the seven crewmen.