Historic war veteran sunk at its mooring

 KML's large ex-US Army floating crane 'BD6074' was brought in to lift the vessel KML's large ex-US Army floating crane 'BD6074' was brought in to lift the vessel
Industry Database

The 1944-built 75ft MFV ‘Scotch Queen’ (ex ‘MFV 1100’) which sank in the River Fal in September has been salvaged by the local firm Sea Wide Services (SWS) in a long, protracted operation.

The vessel was sitting almost upright in 35ft of water on the edge of the 60ft deepwater channel, although leaning 30 degrees to starboard. The total weight when lifting to the surface was 135 tonnes. Once on the surface the hull was dewatered prior to lifting onto the salvage barge.

The insurers of the Scotch Queen, whose owner was working offshore at the time, commissioned Brendan Rowe of SWS to salvage the boat which was insured only for third party liability and wreck removal. SWS's team of six divers in total spent almost six days digging through thick mud with air and water lances to place six lifting strops under the hull. The lifting and eventual demolition was contracted to Keynvor MorLift (KML), who share their yard at Falmouth Wharves with SWS.

SWS used their dive support vessel Boy Brendan along with the crew launch Swallow and other workboats. The firm's managing director Brendan Rowe said: “This was a difficult job. It took six days to tunnel underneath the vessel to rig six sets of lifting slings, using techniques we developed ourselves. We were working in reduced visibility and mud.” Once the boat was stropped and ready to be raised, KML's large ex-US Army floating crane BD6074 was brought in to lift the vessel and bring it back to the company's wharf on the Penryn River, where it has been landed in readiness for dismantling. The crane barge was towed by KML's tug Tennaherdhya, assisted by the landing craft Severn Sins and a workboat.

Scotch Queen is one of the last of this class of vessel built for the Admiralty during WW2 and it was on the National Register of Historic Vessels. It was built of oak on oak at Grimsby by Humphrey & Smith Ltd in 1944 and given the Admiralty designation MFV 1100. After the war the Admiralty retained the MFV until it was decommissioned in 1948, following which it worked as a herring fishing boat on the UK's East Coast (LK331) for almost 40 years. In the late 1980s it was fitted with an enlarged deckhouse and A-frame mast and employed as a dive support vessel before being sold to a private buyer and converted to a liveaboard. It had been laid up near Turnaware Point on the River Fal for some time before its sudden sinking. Following its salvage, however, the boat was destined to be broken up as the wooden hull has been condemned. Ironically, the hull beneath the waterline was found to be reasonably sound.

By Graeme Ewens

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