Following my visit to look at Cammell Laird, I made the short trip to Birkenhead’s East Float Dock to see the partially submerged RV Sarsia wreck. Histories of the ship on the internet differ, but the one here seems quite comprehensive, so I’ve joined that up with information from other sources to get a bit of a history. I make no claims as to the accuracy of this. A picture of the ship in its original state can be found here and a colour version here.
The ship was built by Philip & Son, in Dartmouth, Devon in 1953 as a survey vessel for the Marine Biological Association. She was sold in 1981 and taken to West Africa for use as an oil survey boat until 1986 when it returned back to Dartmouth and then on to Plymouth where it remained in Millbay Docks for two years. She was then sold in around 1988 and towed to Birkenhead Docks with the intention of converting her to a luxury yacht. However the owner hit cashflow problems and all work was stopped and nothing happened for years. She was at that time berthed on the Wallasey Dock Road side of the East Float. The MDHB issued a writ on her for mooring fees and she was impounded. The MDHB then moved her to her current position where she sank in May 1998. It is unclear how the ship sank, rumour has it she was scuttled by removing the seacock. For reasons that are unclear, the ship has never been salvaged and she has simply disintegrated where she lies and serves as a refuge for marine life.
Behind sits the derelict pumping station which is worth a revisit and a post in its own right, so watch this space!
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Seems very strange that any harbour authority would be content to let a sunk derelict lie for years alongside their harbour wall….maybe the usual legal complications when a vessel sinks at a pier, made worse by the ‘authorities’ taking posession and moving her, maybe without owners consent?
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I agree – its a very odd situation. Given the relative lack of traffic in the docks overall, it’s never got in the way of anything so I’m supposing that it’s always been a very low priority for anyone to bother sorting out!
I quite like it when old hulks are left to fade away rather than salvaged and broken up – makes for a more interesting view…
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It certainly does! The Duke of Lancaster is a good example of this, there’s a few pictures of it on this blog somewhere!