Solway Harvester to be scrapped

The Solway Harvester in Douglas Harbour
The Solway Harvester in Douglas Harbour

THE doomed Solway Harvester which sank off the Isle of Man 13 years ago killing seven Machars men is finally set to be scrapped.

The Manx Government have been under pressure to dispose of the Kirkcudbright-based scallop dredger, which went down in stormy seas 11 miles from the Isle of Man in January 2000. Seven men from the Isle of Whithorn, Whithorn and Garlieston lost their lives, their bodies recovered from the sunken boat. These were skipper Craig Mills, aged 29, Robin Mills, 33, David Mills, 17, Martin Milligan, 26, John Murphy, 22, David Lyons, 18, and Wesley Jolly, 17.

The Harvester has languished in Douglas Harbour on the island since its recovery five months later, originally to allow for investigations in the case against the boat’s owner Richard Gidney but this case fell down in 2005.

On 8 November 2008, Coroner Michael Moyle ruled the deaths of all seven crew members as accidental. Parts of his report were heavily critical of Mr Gidney over the ship’s standard of maintenance and equipment, as well as her past safety record.

Now in a statement, the Department of Infrastructure has said it will shortly begin the process to have the Solway Harvester scrapped.

A spokesman said: “An advert for expressions of interest from suitable contractors will be placed in the media and this will be followed by a tendering and assessment process. Given the need to deal with this work in a sensitive manner, the tenders and proposed method statements will be carefully assessed by the department.

“The advocate acting for the families was advised on October 16 of the department’s intentions and no expressions of concern have been received.”

The wreck of the Solway Harvester had been retained at the request of the families’ legal advisors but the department said it has recently been advised that although the families’ action against the previous owner was still continuing, the vessel itself was no longer required.