File photo of the Julie Anne, which sank at its mooring in the Sound of Mull last Thursday. No one was aboard the vessel, which is lying upright on the seabed.

Sunken salmon farm boat to be re-floated within days

Scottish Sea Farms lines up quick recovery of vessel that went down in Sound of Mull

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Specialist contractors working for salmon producer Scottish Sea Farms are hoping to re-float the company’s landing craft, Julie Anne, within the next few days after it sank at its mooring at the Fiunary fish farm in the Sound of Mull last Thursday.

The Julie Anne, a 15-metre vessel built in 2015, is sitting upright on the seabed in 20 metres of water.

No one was aboard the vessel at the time of the sinking, which occurred at around 8am on July 4, minutes after SSF was alerted by a member of the public that the Julie Anne was listing.

SSF hired specialist divers from Jifmar Group and on the advice of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) also enlisted the assistance of environmental services specialists Briggs Marine.

A full inspection of vents and outlets on-board the Julie Anne was carried out by specialist divers and action taken to stop and seal a small release of oil. Oil booms were also deployed around the incident area.

First sinking for SSF

SSF head of health and safety Gerry McCormick said: “We are incredibly grateful to the MCA for their advice, guidance and support.

“Our immediate priority, with the assistance of specialist divers and environmental services, has been to check for any potential fuel leaks, seal any areas found to be releasing small quantities of fuel, and re-check these multiple times daily. As an added precaution, we have also deployed oil booms around the incident area.

“Our collective focus now is on removing the fuel and re-floating the vessel – a first for Scottish Sea Farms in close to 25 years of farming – which we hope to have done within the week, after which we will carry out a full and thorough inspection.”

Recovery plan

The MCA has carried out surveillance flights over the incident area to help assess the situation and advise SSF on the best course of action to minimise any impact.

A recovery plan, prepared by Jifmar Group, and an environmental protection plan, drafted by Briggs Marine, are now with the MCA for review. If these are approved, SSF’s contractors can begin removing fuel from the Julie Anne, then start lifting the boat.

The cause of the sinking is not known. Jifmar divers could see no obvious cause, and the vessel was fully certified by the Marine Engineers Certifying Authority (MECAL), having passed an inspection just a month ago, on June 7.

Engineers had been on board the day before the sinking to check and change oils and filters.

A spokesperson for the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) said: “We continue to liaise with the operator and Marine Directorate as we monitor the situation closely to ensure any potential environmental impacts are limited. Members of the public can report environmental impacts online at”