Wreck removal plan for Astrid in final stages

Plans to remove the wreck of the stricken tall ship Astrid are now at an advanced stage.

The insurers of the 95-year-old Dutch sail training vessel are expected to be in a position today to consider a wreck removal plan, which could be underway before the end of the week.

The news comes ahead of meetings in Cork today between the Irish Coast Guard’s pollution and salvage operations officer, Hugh Barry, with officials of Cork County Council.

They are expected to discuss preliminary proposals for the removal of the vessel from rocks near Oysterhaven bay.

It is expected that once the 3.5 tonnes of diesel still on board are removed, and the vessel is prepped, a huge floating crane will be used to hoist the wreck on to a barge due to travel from the UK.

The wreck will then be brought to a nearby port to be handed back to the insurers.

Meanwhile, reports that looters have targeted the wreck, which was being guarded round-the-clock by the naval service and the coast guard, were played down last night.

It was reported yesterday the ship’s compass, wheel, and bell may have been taken under the cover of darkness on Friday night.

However, a local diving expert, who witnessed the grounding last Wednesday, said the items were missing from the ship’s deck within hours of the incident.

Graham Ferguson of Kinsale- based dive and charter company, Oceanaddicts, returned to the scene a few hours after the dramatic rescue of Astrid’s 30 crew to photograph the wreck, and he has been monitoring her daily.

He said the bell and compass were definitely gone from the deck by 6pm last Wednesday.

“I would find it hard to believe that looters could gain access to the ship. I can see no evidence of looting,” he said.

“We pass it daily and there has been no change in it what so ever. And I can see no evidence of anybody climbing all over it.”

Because the owner of the wreck is known, it is a criminal offence to remove any items from the vessel.

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