EFFORTS to raise the Banff-registered fishing boat Prospect from the bottom of Lerwick harbour are expected to start early next week after it sank on Monday night.
Lerwick Port Authority has been coordinating plans to salvage the vessel, which lies on its starboard side in 15 metres of water, and restrict the pollution from its fully laden fuel tanks.
On Tuesday two sets of divers inspected the boat and retrieved six pumps, which tried in vain to halt the flow of seawater into the vessel after she was holed when she hit a well-marked submerged rock in the harbour’s northern entrance at full speed.
Police tested the skipper for alcohol after the incident, but he passed the breathalyser test.
Wildlife experts toured the site on Wednesday morning and found only one eider duck showing possible signs of being affected by the light sheens of oil that have so far leaked from the vessel.
Lerwick Port Authority harbourmaster Callum Grains said divers had succeeded in plugging the fuel vents and reduced the amount of diesel leaking into the sea.
The boat carries 22,000 litres of fuel having just filled up ahead of a fishing voyage, raising fears of a pollution incident in an area close to houses and large seal and bird colonies.
Grains said the plan was to patch up the damaged portside of the wooden hull of the vessel and attempt to raise it using air bags.
The plan is then to tow the vessel to the quayside where the seawater, fuel and bilge water can be removed safely from the vessel.
Grains said: “We are now at the early stages of looking at what is going to be required and formulating a plan to raise the casualty.
“Most of the fuel is enclosed in the tanks so the best way would be to keep the hull secure and in one piece take it ashore and do it in a more controlled environment.
“The next few days do look favourable so we’re getting these things done as soon as we can.
“All going well we have preparation work going on over the next few days, there is equipment being mobilised from the mainland, so that will be done over the weekend so we can raise the casualty early next week.”
The boat’s insurers have been in Shetland recruiting dive teams and helping the port authority coordinate the salvage operation.
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