Sunday, November 27, 2011

Freight Vessel With Cargo of Stone Sunk Off Welsh Coast

One Dead and Five Still Missing as Search Continues
Shipping News Feature

UK – Questions were raised today after the sinking of the merchant vessel Swanland which went down in the early hours of this morning. The ship put out a mayday call at 2 am when she got into difficulties in gale force winds around ten miles off the Lleyn peninsula, North Wales. Five Russian crew members are still missing after two others had been rescued from the life rafts to which they were clinging. The vessel is an 81 metre freighter which was believed to be carrying a cargo of up to 3,000 tonnes of limestone.

The Swanland is believed to be flagged in the Cook Islands and owned by the Lincolnshire firm of Torbulk, none of whose management were available for comment at the time of going to press. The ship was reportedly en route to the Isle of Wight after loading near Colwyn Bay and is the same vessel that came close to grounding off Lizard Point off the Cornish coast last year.

After receiving the distress call Holyhead Coastguard immediately put out an emergency response call to all shipping in the area, to which two vessels immediately responded. The two survivors were rescued but six men, some believed to be wearing flotation suits due to the extreme conditions, were missing. One mans body was subsequently recovered from the water and the search, involving two all weather lifeboats plus search and rescue helicopters from RAF Valley and Dublin coastguard, continues.

Reports from the scene indicated that the ships hull had begun to split causing an ingress of water and that the skipper of the first vessel on the scene, the Bro Gazelle a tanker headed for Pembroke, managed to use his vessel’s hull to provide some shelter for the men in the water. Following the rescue both the Bro Gazelle and the MV Monsoon helped search for the missing men.