A MASSIVE clean-up operation began Wednesday afternoon for the skipper of the stricken trawler that spent four days on the bottom of Newcastle Harbour.
The boat was re-floated Wednesday morning and towed to Midcoast Boatyard and Marine, at Wickham, but could not be removed from the water until its load of fish and prawns was cleared.
Hunter Allied Diving director Julie Chappelow said the skipper and his friends were working to unload the vessel.
‘‘It’s a pretty big clean-up and they were working to strip the boat of the fish load before it was lifted out of the water,’’ she said.
‘‘As you can imagine, it would be fairly messy in there.’’
It took about three hours to lift the trawler with airbags after repairs were made to a large split in the bow.
The trawler was then turned and towed backwards to the Wickham boatyard.
The accident happened on Saturday morning when the vessel ploughed into Stockton ferry wharf and sunk.
Police investigations into the incident are continuing.
Trawler refloated then re-sunk
JUST minutes after it was re-floated, the stricken trawler that ploughed into Stockton ferry wharf on Saturday was back on the bottom of Newcastle Harbour again on Tuesday afternoon.
Following a salvage operation that took four divers almost seven hours, a decision was made to re-sink the wreck due to safety concerns.
Divers spent the day making repairs and levelling the boat under the water using 10,000 kilograms of air in eight bags.
It resurfaced about 3pm as the sunken trawler’s skipper, nicknamed ‘‘Lucky’’ by his fishing mates following his escape without injury on Saturday, watched on.
The professional fisherman, who declined to speak to the Herald, wanted the boat towed to Stockton for repairs, but it seemed he was out of luck.
With concerns about moving the boat across the shipping channel, a decision was made to re-sink the vessel.
Hunter Allied Diving director Julie Chappelow said the trawler would be floated again this morning.‘‘We are fast running out of daylight and all the airbags are now in position,’’ she said.
‘‘It’s considered much safer having the boat on the bottom overnight and we’ll lift it again and tow it in the morning.’’
Newcastle Port Corporation said the salvage operation was organised by the owner and containment booms had been put in place in accordance with oil spill prevention procedures.
The accident happened on Saturday morning when the trawler veered off course and smashed head-first into the Stockton ferry wharf.
Ferry deckhand Dylan Austin and skipper Stephen Doley rescued the lone occupant before the boat sank.
The salvage operation will continue on Wednesday morning.