Wrecks: Scotland

Department for Transport written question – answered on 15th January 2015.

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Photo of Michael Weir Michael Weir Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Business), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Energy and Climate Change)

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps the Marine Accident Investigation Branch is taking to investigate the sinking of the cargo vessel, Cemfjord, in the Pentland Firth.

Photo of John Hayes John Hayes Minister of State (Department for Transport)

The Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) has commenced an investigation of the accident in cooperation with the Cypriot, Danish and Polish accident investigation authorities. Initial indications are that Cemfjord capsized suddenly, soon after entering an area of extremely violent seas to the north-west of the island of Stroma; the weather and sea conditions in the Pentland Firth at the time were atrocious. It has also been established that the vessel did not transmit any form of distress signal.

Key areas of investigation include: why the vessel foundered so rapidly; why none of the crew seem to have survived; and why it took so long for the alarm to be raised. To help answer some of these questions, the MAIB will be conducting a Remotely Operated Underwater Vehicle (ROV) survey of the wreck when weather conditions allow.

Decisions about any further investigation of the wreck in situ cannot be made until the results of the ROV survey have been assessed. The evidence collected thus far suggests no reason to consider raising the vessel and any attempt would be fraught with such technical and practical challenges that it may not be possible to do so.

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