05 October 2008

O'Dea: Asgard's Fate depends on Insurers

It appears that the fate of the sunken Irish sail training vessel Asgard II lies now in the hands of the insurance industry. The thought alone must send shivers down the spine of any decent sailor. It certainly has that effect on me.

An initial inspection and underwater survey of the wreck (for details see my entry of October 3rd) established that the brigantine is in much better condition than many of us expected.
She sits upright on the seabed, in about 80 metres of water, and there appears to be very little visible damage. This suggests that her raising and repair is not only possible, but also advisable.

Ireland's Defence Minister Willie O'Dea (right), who is also chairman of Coiste an Asgard, has said that the question of salvage "depends now mainly on the ship's insurers".
He declared that Asgard II was "well insured for a good deal of money", and that negotiations with the insurance companies over the further procedures are now in progress.

The insurance money could either be used for a salvage operation and subsequent repairs, or alternatively contribute to the building costs of a new vessel. The latter option is currently not favoured by Coiste an Asgard. The sunken brigantine has a unique character and is very dear to many people in Ireland and abroad. So if she can be salvaged and put back into service, this is the preferred option for everyone.

There is also some doubt if the skills to build a similar vessel as replacement still exist in modern Ireland. (The government has indeed done nothing during the past 25 years to train shipwrights and boat-builders which would be needed for such a project.)

Another possible alternative - in case a salvage operation would be ruled out - is to buy an existing vessel as replacement for the Asgard II. This could be done with the insurance money and would be much easier than salvage or building a new vessel.

One possible option for a purchase would be the British brig Prince William (left) whose current owner, the Tall Ships Youth Trust in the UK, is looking for a buyer. She is already well-known in Ireland from numerous visits, and her Master is an Irishman.
So there are good arguments for this option, and the vessel is also substantially larger than the
Asgard II, which would mean more places for trainees.

However, I think that I speak for a majority in the Irish sailing community when I state here that salvaging the Asgard II would be the most preferable option, especially since she is in good shape and condition.

The Emerald Islander


Red Eyes said...

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With my very best wishes

ronnie said...

Hi ...Emerald Islander,Good on you. your blog is very informative.
Asgard II
Can you explain further (to a non sailor) the current situation and options for the salvage decision makers and if you think she should be salvaged and repaired?
Can you clarify

1) Approx How much would it cost to buy the Prince William.
2) Is there superstitions with sailing on a vessel that have sunk before
3) Is there problems that can occur later after a vessel has been recovered and repaired.
4) Why the sailing community would prefer to see her fixed and not replaced with a larger vessel offering greater training opportunities
5) Why do you think building a new vessel is not the favoured option for Coiste an Asgard?

I know a number of people who had a wonderful introduction to sailing on Asgard II over the last 20 yrs and I am very interested in how the political powers and commerical decision makers decide the faith of this unique part of Irish history.


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