Steam trawler Viola that skirmished with U-boats in the First World War has spent the past 50 years rusting off in South Georgia could finally be making its final voyage home, to Hull, according to a piece from Will Ramsey published in the Hull Daily Mail.
This fishing vessel, once part of the boxing fleets that landed fish for London's Billingsgate Market, could be an iconic addition to the city's maritime heritage as an emblem of the role fishing vessels played in the war at sea.
According to the Hull Daily Mail a survey on the Viola, supported by a group of five Hull maritime firms, is to take place in South Georgia. The project also has the backing of Hull West and Hessle MP Alan Johnson and Beverley and Holderness MP Graham Stuart.
Lyle Craigie Halkett, formerly Salvage Consultant to the Falklands Government, together with Tim Gilbert, surveyor for Hull firm SMS Towage, are on their way to the South Atlantic.
Robb Robinson, of the University of Hull's Maritime Historical Studies Centre, hailed the development as exciting news.
This ship is a real icon of not just the Hessle Road fishing community but of the great port city of Hull, said Robb, who has just published a book - The Life and Times of a Hull Steam Trawler -about the Viola.
It sailed off to war with a Hull crew in September 1914 and has yet to return from that voyage.
There are hopes to bring the vessel back to Hull for the UK City of Culture 2017 celebrations. But before plans for its recovery or preservation are realized, a survey is needed on its current condition.
Robb said that Sir Menzies Campbell, who has also taken a keen interest in the vessel, felt that the Government's Great War Commemoration fund might offer a way to fund the survey.
Initial hopes were to organize a survey in January, following a December meeting between the interested MPs and the government department in charge of First World War Commemoration funding.
Robb said that as January proved difficult for berths on the passage from the Falklands to South Georgia, passage was sorted by the Government of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands for this month.
Paul Escreet, chairman of Hull-based SMS Towage, has encouraged a group of maritime firms from the city to join with him and underwrite the costs of sending the two surveyors.
Alongside SMS Towage, the firms include Dunston's, Reffold's, Holderness Engineering and Everard Insurance Brokers. Robb said that Alan Johnson MP and Graham Stuart MP have supported Paul Escreet's offer, and will press for the funding to be repaid to the firm at the December meeting.
Although there is no guarantee that the funding will be made available, the Hull firms have agreed to go forward with their support on this basis, said Robb.
Further support has come from the Government of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, who have agreed to cover accommodation costs in Stanley and travel to South Georgia for the surveyors. Robb says the survey will see if this well-travelled vessel, currently some 8,000 miles from its home port, is up to making its final journey.
If so we would like to see the little ship return home in 2017, he said.
The strength and history of Hull was in the booming fishing industry and the men who sailed on the icy and dangerous sub-Antarctic waters.
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Looks like this vessel is in better condition than most argentine navy ships.Nov 13th, 2014 - 12:31 pm 0
Nice bit of nostalgia for Hull to bring the old boat home, she has been away a long time!Nov 13th, 2014 - 02:09 pm 0
With a bit of luck it can catch a few fish in Argentine waters on the way back north.Nov 13th, 2014 - 05:40 pm 0
It isn't as if the argies have anything bigger than a rowing boat for fishery protection 'at the top end'.