The raising of a sunken tugboat at Gt Yarmouth Yacht Station, Norfolk – December 2017

Cox’s Boatyard Ltd was contracted to raise the sunken craft which was lying on her side on the bottom of the river at Gt Yarmouth Yacht Station. The craft had to be raised as quickly as possible due to the danger it presented to river traffic and potential environment risk.

We arranged for a dive team to assess the craft and to see what the under-water condition of the craft was and if the lifting points were accessible, as the easiest and safest way to recover the craft was to crane her out of the water and onto a lorry. We also needed to find out how much silt was building up in the craft, so we could work out the total weight. The best position for us to locate a crane to lift the craft was the middle of a busy road, which meant that we would need to close the road.

We applied for an urgent road closure licence through the Highways Department and consulted with relevant authorities. The best time for us to close the road and lift the craft out of the water, to coincide with low water, was the last Sunday before Christmas – just a few days after we were contacted about the sunken craft. We arranged a road closure plan, diversion and all the signage.

At 1.00pm we closed the road and put a diversion in place. We also closed the smaller roads around the lift site. The 150-ton crane was positioned and rigged ready for the lift. The dive team was set up and by 2.30pm everything was in place and waiting for the tide and water current to slow down enough for the divers to attach the lifting wires. Visibility underwater was about 150mm which presented a challenge. We stared lifting by righting the craft first, and then lifted her so the cockpit was above the water. She was then slowly lifted up and out of the water onto the waiting lorry.

We de-rigged the crane and moved the crane and lorry on so the road could be opened again by early evening. The craft was taken back to Cox’s Boatyard and off-loaded.