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Lifting Of L'Ecume II Delayed

Divers have been surveying the wreck site. Credit: GoJ

Efforts to recover the sunken fishing trawler L'Ecume II have been hampered by conditions and the vessel suffering some break up.

Authorities have given an update on the mission to raise the wreck of the boat which sank of Jersey's west coast in December following a collision with the Goodwill freight ship.

The bodies of two crewmen - Jervis Ramirez Baligat and Larry Simyunn - were found in the days that followed, but skipper Michael Michieli remains missing.

The operation began last Sunday (16 April) 

Specialist divers and underwater robots (ROVs) have been exploring the wreck site and have taken still and moving images of boat.

That has shown that the vessel, which was largely intact on earlier investigations, have moved around five metres and suffered some break up.

Briefing reporters earlier, Richard Corrigan, who chairs the recovery co-ordination group, said the structural integrity of the hull is worse than expected and the timetable for recovering the vessel has shifted.

It is likely to be raised in pieces as far as is possible.

The steel deck is dislodged from the hull of the boat and is set at an angle, which risks trapping divers.  They have not been able to get inside the wreckage to gather further evidence.

The divers can only be on the seabed for 15 minutes.

The operation has been further hampered by weather conditions, sea states and high tides.

The search and recovery elements of the work will continue in the coming week, in the expectation the boat can now be lifted the following week (27 April - 3 May)

Officers working on Operation Nectar - the police investigation of the fatal collision at sea - hope to recover the missing skipper and more evidence to assist their probe into how the tragedy happened.

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