Monday, January 09, 2006

Maltese Ship Impounded In French Harbour After Trawler Sinking

A Maltese-registered cargo ship was still impounded yesterday afternoon and its captain questioned following the sinking of a French trawler off the Alderney coast. The Sichem Pandora is thought to have been in the area where the Kleine Familie disappeared. The chemical carrier was on its way from Tunisia to The Netherlands with 15 on board, when it was escorted to Dunkirk by French Maritime Police. The search for five missing fishermen has now been called off.
Sichem Pandora
A French naval minesweeper with the help of a submarine robot yesterday identified the wreckage on the sea bed, 200ft deep in the area near the Casquets reef where the 50ft wooden trawler sank in the early hours of Thursday morning. French authorities had earlier said the Kleine Familie had probably been involved in a collision. But the Maltese ship’s owners, Tesma Holding said yesterday the ship had absolutely not been involved in any collision and that it would “soon” be leaving Dunkirk harbour to continue on its way to Holland. According to French sources, the Maltese ship had a dent on its keel and checks were being made yesterday with the help of a submarine robot to see if there were any corresponding dents on the fishing boat’s structure. Thursday’s major air and sea search included French coastguards, military craft, lifeboats from Alderney and the Channel Islands Air Search plane. A criminal investigation is now also underway, led by BEAmer, the French marine accident authority. The president of the Lower Normandy Fisherman’s Association said the Kleine Familie was a good boat, and the skipper had been sailing for about 25 years. He said it was a catastrophe for the port of Cherbourg, where the trawler came from.

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