Sunderland wreck row as overturned boat remains in River Wear 16 months after it capsized

The wreckage of a boat left on a stretch of the River Wear remains in the same position in the water 16 months after it first overturned.

Saturday, 23rd February 2019, 08:00 am
Updated Saturday, 23rd February 2019, 11:17 am
Elegant II on the River Wear in Sunderland. Picture by Alan Liddle.

Elegant II was discovered adrift on the Wear at North Hylton back in October 2017 and is still in the same spot, sparking fears that youngsters could be injured while trying to play in the area.

Sunderland Coastguard Rescue Team located the vessel close to the north banks at Nab End after it had beached, but with the arrival of high tide, it refloated and then drifted to the south side at Ofteron Heugh.

Concerns over abandoned ship the Elegant ll near Hylton Bridge. Former fisherman Alan Liddle with dog Jack.

But the boat still remains there 16 months on, and residents in the area are concerned about the potential of children injuring themselves while attempting to play in the area during this summer.

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Port of Sunderland previously said the boat does not pose a risk to river traffic or pollution but remains the responsibility of its owner and that other agencies, including police and coastguard, were aware of the matter.

Alan Liddle, who lives in the Castletown area, reported the boat to authorities in the city in late 2017 and says he would like to see the boat removed as a matter of urgency.

“I think it’s disgraceful that it’s still there,” said Mr Liddle, 46, himself a former fisherman.

“It’s a blight on the river and when Sunderland is trying to promote itself as a city it’s not great.

“I know that some of the people who use the river for rowing aren’t happy that it’s still there either.”

Mr Liddle added that he has concerns over the effect the continued presence of the boat has on wildlife and how it could become an area in which youngsters want to explore.

“I saw a lad playing on the boat a while ago and when he popped his head out I told him to get off there because it’s dangerous,” said Mr Liddle.

“When I spoke about this last time hopefully parents saw the report and warned their kids about going down there to play in the holidays.

“But a lot of the kids don’t realise about the tides coming in.

“I think it’s only a matter of time before someone gets hurt unless the boat is moved.”

In June last year the Port of Sunderland said that the ship is the responsibility of the owner and poses no risk to other river traffic or marine pollution.

The port added that the Northumbria Police Marine Unit, the Environment Agency and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency were all aware of the situation and the port had been in dialogue with the owner.

In a statement today Port of Sunderland said: “The Harbour Master is aware of the position with this boat.”