MV Cemfjord sinking: Church service to be held in Wick for lost crew of stricken cement carrier


SUNDAY’S ‘Service for the Missing Seafarers of the MV Cemfjord’ is being jointly organised by the church and The Mission to Seafarers two weeks on from the tragedy in the Pentland Firth.

A CHURCH service to honour the lost crew of the cement carrier MV Cemfjord which sank in treacherous seas in the Pentland Firth is to be held this Sunday.

The Church of St John’s the Evangelist in the Caithness town of Wick will host a gathering of local people including those involved in the search for the missing men.

The “Service for the Missing Seafarers of the MV Cemfjord” is being jointly organised by the church and The Mission to Seafarers.

Reverend Wendy Knott, of St John’s, said: “The service will be held to honour those who lost their lives in the accident and also for all those who took part in the search.”

Leading management from Hamburg-based shipping company Brise, operators of the ill-fated vessel, will travel from Germany,

Tony Redding, Brise representative in the UK, said: “I will be there with Kai-Erik Clemmesen (CORR), managaing director and his deputy Stefan Lindberg.

“We will be in attendance, weather permitting. We are determined to get there if we physically can.

“It’s important for everyone because some of the people there will be from the coastguards, search and rescue and RNLI.

“It’s very important that we have the opportunity to thank them face-to-face, this will be the only opportunity and we need to take it if we can.”

None of the relatives of the seven Polish and one Filipino crew will make the journey.

Redding said: “It’s a long way and a difficult journey. It’s still very raw and the families are not English speakers.

“But we will almost certainly be having a memorial service in Poland at some point but we will leave that for a few weeks.”

The Cyprus-registered Cemfjord sank on her 50th trip through the Pentland Firth on January 3 with the loss of all hands.

Brise have admitted that the vessel may end up being the crew’s final resting place despite the anguish of families.

The ship is lying more than 200ft down and strong currents and dangerous seas mean that it might be too dangerous to recover.

The bodies of Polish skipper Pawel Chruscinski and his seven crew are believed to be trapped inside the vessel.

It’s thought they had no time to escape after being hit by mountainous seas in the notoriously treacherous waters between the north tip of Scotland and Orkney.

But what happened remains a mystery as bad weather has hampered maritime investigators from sending down remotely-operated vehicles (ROVs) to examine the wreck.

Redding said the company were still trying to piece together the circumstances of the tragedy.

He said it was unlikely the 272ft vessel carrying 2000 tons of cement would be raised.

He said: “That decision is probably going to be some time in the making.

“A lot of Press, particularly in Poland, has reported we are going to raise the ship.

“It’s very unlikely that that will happen.

“The reason for that is that the depth of the water is 70 metres, that’s over 200ft.

“That’s saturation diving depth for specialised diving teams with specialised equipment.

“They would need to position themselves in a place that’s absolutely notorious for its bad weather and deal with the strong currents on the sea.

“What are you going to achieve putting people in harm’s way? That’s a very serious consideration.

“It’s not an unusual consideration when it comes to marine salvage activities where you are dealing with a fatal accident.

“But to ask men to risk their lives or put themselves in harm’s way for the possible recovery of bodies – that’s a very tough call.

“It’s not a decision that would be taken lightly but we are quite a long way from that.

“But it might be that at the end this ship will be regarded as the crew’s place of rest.

“It might come to be regarded as a seamen’s grave.”





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