Work to dismantle the fishing boat Solway Harvester which has been moored at Douglas for around 13 years has already started.
Stephen Carter, boss of the Laxey Towing Company, which is undertaking the task, said weather permitting he hoped to complete the work by Christmas time.
‘We will have a team of men working on the job with cranes and oxy-propane burners,’ he said.
The Solway Harvester, a scallop dredger, sank in rough seas in January 2000 with the loss of all seven Scottish crewmen. The boat is thought to weigh around 170 tons and is the largest vessel to be dismantled in the Isle of Man for some years - possibly since the old Douglas Head steam ferry was dismantled in the 1960s, Mr Carter suggested.
The steel-hulled boat still has its engines and winding gear on board which will also need to be removed. The team of five or six will work down from the top cutting away sections - some as large as five or six tons - which can be lifted away by crane and loaded on to a lorry then transported by road and ferry to a UK scrap merchant. It can then be melted down and reused.
‘When you are cutting a ship up it has to be done systematically and in a way that maintains the vessel’s stability so it does no capsize. You have to plan ahead where you are going to make the cuts.
‘When you build a ship you start from the keel and work up, so when you dismantle one, you start from the top and work your way down,’ he said.
The vessel has been moored near to the Douglas lifting bridge which is where the work is taking place. The area is tidal and the boat is still afloat but has needed repairs recently after its thinning hull deteriorated and sprang a leak.
Mr Carter said as sections were removed it would float higher in the water, as the weight was reduced. Finally, work on the bottom section of the hull would be completed during low tide times when the area was clear of water.
‘The idea is to keep it afloat as long as possible then the last of the work will be done at the bottom of the harbour at low water,’ he said.
‘We have a fairly detailed plan worked out as to how to dismantle it. The optimum number of workers is about five. Given that it’s a fairly small vessel it’s not really feasible to have more than that.’
He added: ‘With good weather the work is expected to take about a month. Our aim is to get it done before Christmas. But there will be days when it is too windy - meaning we can’t use the crane - or too wet.
‘We can’t use the cutting equipment if we get really torrential rain. In theory the steel could go to steel works anywhere in the world to be melted down to make cars, another ship or be used in buildings, for example.’
Sale of the scrap metal will go to offset the cost of disposing of the vessel which Infrastructure Minister David Cretney estimated at £20,000, Mr Carter said.
The boat was heading to take refuge in Ramsey Bay from stormy weather when it sank 11 miles from the Isle of Man coast. In 2008 an inquest in the Isle of Man found the deaths of the boat’s seven crew members was accidental. The wreck has remained in the Isle of Man since then.
Source: iom today. 16 November 2013http://www.iomtoday.co.im/news/isle-of-man-news/scrapping-the-solway-harvester-should-be-finished-by-christmas-1-6241915