CAMPAIGNERS fighting to bring an historic ship back to her Wearside birthplace have vowed to carry on, despite losing the first stage of the battle.
The first piece of the 148-year-old Sunderland-built clipper ship City of Adelaide – the ship’s rudder – has arrived in Australia.
The Sunderland City of Adelaide Recovery Fund (Scarf) wants to bring the ship back to Sunderland from its current home in Scotland and had hoped to block the rudder’s export.
But chairman Peter Maddison said the rudder’s arrival Down Under was not the end of the fight.
And he dismissed the Australian group’s claims that the rudder passing Australia’s stringent import regulations, designed to prevent biological infestations, proved the whole ship would be able to do the same.
“This is actually good news because, prior to a couple of days ago, we did not have any idea where the rudder was,” said Mr Maddison.
“We did not know whether it was still in the museum in Irvine, whether it was in a container in Rotterdam.”
The fact the rudder had made it through the Australia Quarantine and Inspection Service’s tough checks did not mean the whole ship would.
“It is absolute nonsense,”said Mr Maddison.
“The rudder has been in a shipping container and it would have been quite easy to heat that container to the correct temperature and fill it with the necessary poisons and chemicals to ensure every living organism in that rudder was eradicated.
“But the rudder is only two tonnes. The ship is 400 tonnes – you can’t put the ship into a container to be able to heat it and use the same kind of chemicals to kill all the life on the clipper.”
Scarf is still confident of winning the war for Adelaide. The group believes it will be able to bring the ship back to Wearside within the £750,000 aid budget available from the Scottish government and plants to submit its proposals in the New Year.
“We can recover the ship for the £750,000 that is available – the Australians simply cannot do that,”said Mr Maddison.
“They have a £2million shortfall. I admire their perseverance but I think it is desperate for them to be trying to convince people, on the basis they have the operational ability to transport the rudder, that they are going to be able to do the same for the clipper.”