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Island supply vessel hit amidships en route to Scilly

By The Cornishman  |  Posted: January 02, 2014

A rainbow breaks out over the freighter Gry Maritha as she makes a return voyage to the mainland after bringing Scilly much needed supplies. Phill Deason

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THE Isles of Scilly Steamship Company's Norwegian–built freighter Gry Maritha struck a rock while en route to Scilly from Penzance earlier this week.

The vessel, regarded as a cargo-carrying lifeline by islanders, hit the Crow Rock just off St Mary's not long after 6pm on Monday evening.

There were no casualties and the ship soon after berthed at St Mary's quay. The impact was said to have been amidships on the starboard side.

The St Mary's lifeboat was alerted and placed on standby.

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"We weren't launched," said RNLI branch press officer Steve Watt. "We were stood down.

"I believe a steamship company harbour employee on the quay waiting for the ship to dock realised something was wrong and raised the alarm."

That she struck amidships suggests she was trying to go inside the Crow, said Mr Watt.

An alternative theory that she might have bumped on Crow bar is thought unlikely.

St Mary's harbour master Dale Clark, in the harbour launch Pegasus, inspected the vessel for damage of which there is believed to be little. Divers were contacted to make a formal inspection.

As is standard procedure, the Gry's master was breathalysed, the reading being negative.

Falmouth coastguard said they had been alerted to the incident.

"We called the Gry Maritha who confirmed she was OK," said a spokesman "and she made her own way in."

The hull was checked the following morning by divers and "all was found to be fine".

She then embarked on the return leg to Penzance.

The 32-year-old freighter is a doughty workhorse supplier of the islands, bought by the company in 1989.

She assumes a double significance in winter time with the passenger vessel RMV Scillonian laid up, carrying all the islands' foodstuffs, fuel and building materials.

She is the only scheduled seagoing connection with the mainland, keeps the link in all weathers and islanders regard for her and her reliability is absolute.

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