A STRICKEN fishing boat which hit the south Tyne Pier and ended up beached off the South Shields shoreline has been re-floated to spend her last few days on the Tyne.
The Grenaa Star spent almost four days grounded at Little Haven Beach in South Shields, after it hit the pier at 6.30am on Tuesday.
Experts had tried to move the 60-ft 46-tonne ship, but were unable to due to her damaged hull – which had caused water to flood in.
However, salvage experts from Tyne & Wear Marine, assisted by workers from the Port of Tyne and the Harbourmaster, Captain Mike Nicholson, were able to finally move the Hartlepool-registered craft yesterday after water was pumped out of the vessel.
The Port of Tyne dredger The Sir Bobby Robson played a major part in towing the vessel to a safe berth.
Harbourmaster Nicholson said the operation had been difficult due to the location and the condition of the boat, and praised the crew of the Sir Bobby Robson and of the port’s debris collection vessel the Clearwater, which stood by and assisted in the pollution control measures.
He said: “Due to the boat’s condition, our concerns were for the safety of personnel involved and to protect the local environment.
“We took the weather and tide factors into account, and managed to refloat the boat and tow her to Tyne Dock in an exercise that took in total almost three days.
“The boat was carrying about 7,000 litres of gas oil (diesel), but this was contained. That is enough oil to cover the surface of the river between both piers, so the potential for environmental damage was huge, not least for the newly-improved Little Haven Beach, which attracts many visitors and is a haven for wildlife.”
After she had been re-floated, the Grenaa Star was then towed to the former Readheads yard at Tyne Dock.
Jeff Mane, managing director of Tyne & Wear Marine, said: “We got the go-ahead on Thursday to move her but we waited until yesterday.
“We basically filled her front end with large air bags and inflated them enough for her to float.
“On Monday we will be pumping out all of her fuel and then it’s likely she will be taken to a yard further up the Tyne to be dismantled.”
A 53-year-old man was treated in hospital for a head injury sustained in the collision and has since been arrested and bailed on suspicion of being a master, pilot or seaman unfit through drink.