sabato, maggio 03, 2008

MV Mi Amigo

A sonar image of the MV Mi Amigo the former Radio Caroline ship which sank in the Thames Estuary on 19th March 1980 can be found at

The photo is from the Daily Mirror of 25 March 2008.

(With thanks To David Evans).

This from The Offshore Radio Fleet:

On 19th March 1980, during force ten storms, the anchor chain broke, and the Mi Amigo drifted for ten miles before running aground onto the Long Sand Bank The hull was damaged in the generator room. Water started to pour in. At 23:58 hours the Caroline theme was played for the last time, then DJ Stevie Gordon announced "Due to severe weather conditions and the fact that we are shipping quite a lot of water, we're closing down and the crew are at this stage leaving the ship. Obviously we hope to be back with you as soon as possible, but we'd just like to assure you all on land that there's nothing to worry about. We're all quite safe. Just for the moment we'd like to say goodbye." DJ Tom Anderson then continued "Yes it's not a very good occasion really. I have to hurry this as the lifeboat is standing by. We're not leaving and disappearing, we're going onto the lifeboat hoping that the pump can take it. If they can, we'll be back. If not, well I don't like to say it. I think we will be back one way or another." DJ Stevie Gordon continued "Yes I think so, From all of us, for the moment goodbye and God bless." After standing by for three hours the coxswain of the Sheerness lifeboat insisted that the crew leave the ship as parts of the ship are waist deep in water. On the next day the Mi Amigo sank at 51 degrees 35 minutes North, 01 degrees 17 minutes 20 seconds East. Only the mast remained visible. Divers inspected the Mi Amigo and announced that the ship was distorting as it sank into the sand. On 22nd May Thanet Council announced plans to refloat the Mi Amigo and turn it into a tourist attraction in Ramsgate, Kent. But the Mi Amigo was left untouched. During the last week of July 1986 the mast on the MV Mi Amigo collapsed. On 2nd August Trinity House issued a notice (weekly edition 30) stating that the one-hundred and twenty-seven foot mast was no longer visible. On 13th September Trinity House issued an updated notice (weekly edition 36) stating that a can buoy is to be placed at the location of the wreck of the MV Mi Amigo.

John Platt added in March 2005: As of 2003 the Mi Amigo was resting on her port side, half buried in the sand. The hull is broken in two just forward of the bridge and the lower two sections of the mast were still attached to the hull, the rest are missing. The diver who gave me this information removed several objects from the wreck but would not tell me what.

He had responded to the item you put on your site regarding me needing the masts dimensions. He contacted me and asked what measurements did I need saying that he would try to get them for me the next time he dived the wreck. This he did but he gave me but he incorrectly measured the base of the mast, it took me two years to find this out.

The Mi Amigo is considered to be a difficult dive because of the manner in which the water moves there. At best, the wreck can only be dived twice a year and then only for a maximum of 20 minutes when the water is slack. Visibility is always only a matter of a couple of feet at best. The hull is relatively clean of marine growth due to the scouring effect of the sand lifted by the fast flowing water.

When a hole appeared in the hull, the usual procedure was to stop the inflow of water by whatever means. The wooden cradle was then built around the hole and filled with concrete. During one of the ships excursions onto a sand bank the old girl rested on her anchor chain which resulted in a neat line of, I believe 16 holes in the hull. These were filled as above and over time the number of these repairs increased to, again I believe a total of around 28.

When she visited her last sandbank, the motion of the ship moving up and down onto the sandbank knocked nearly all of the concrete blocks off and the water poured in. All the pumps were working but were unable to cope with the volume of water that was entering the ship, thus she was abandoned and sank. Take a look at my pictures of the model MI Amigo I am building. They are on the Yahoo "Radio Caroline Fan mailing list" in the section called "Files". Open that and scroll down to the folder "JP's model Mi Amigo and others" and they are in there.