Wrangle over oyster boat salvage cost halts auction

The MMV Ostrea from the back.

The MMV Ostrea from the back.

A wrangle between the Loughs Agency and Foyle Port over who’s to pick up the bill for the salvage and clean-up operation after the MMV Ostrea sank in the middle of Derry last December temporarily halted the sale of the ill-fated boat at auction.

The Journal recently reported how the oyster boat, which sank in the city centre less than a year ago and was at one stage quoted at £1.8 million in terms of its insurance value, had been withdrawn from auction.

Now the paper can reveal that a wrangle over the cost of raising it from the bed of the River Foyle and cleaning-up the mess was the reason.

Foyle Port didn’t want the boat to be sold until the bill for raising the oyster monitoring vessel was sorted out.

Loughs Agency agreed to withdraw the boat from auction, following a request from the Port.

Wilson Auctions, a Belfast-based firm, confirmed the withdrawal following requests for an estimate lsst month.

A spokesman for Foyle Port said: “Foyle Port requested that the MMV Ostrea be withdrawn from auction until an agreement had been reached between the Port and the Loughs Agency regarding payment of costs incurred by Foyle Port relating to the salvage and clean-up operation that followed the sinking of the vessel in December 2015.

Barry Fox, Director of Aquaculture at Loughs Agency said: “The Agency’s insurance company and Londonderry Port and Harbour Commission are in discussion currently relating to the costs associated with the salvage of the MMV Ostrea.

“As this has not been finalised the Ostrea was withdrawn from auction.”

A spokesman for the Port said the matter has now been sorted out.

“That matter has now been settled to the satisfaction of all parties.”