Ship goes down in English Channel

The Greek-registered freighter Ice Prince has sunk in winds of up to 65 knots about 26 miles off Portland Bill after shedding much of its load of nearly 5,260 tonnes of sawn timber.

Twelveof the crew were airlifted to Portland and eight others taken by the Torbay lifeboat to Brixham after it got into difficulties on Sunday night.

A counter-pollution aircraft is being sent to the scene to survey the area.

A coastguard spokesman said the ship had sunk at about 0045 GMT on Tuesday after being monitored throughout the night by two tugs.

Waves had reached 9ft.

The vessel was also carrying an estimated 313 tonnes of fuel oil and other lubricating oils in its engine spaces.

The Ice Princess shed some of its cargo of timber before sinking.

Donald MacDonald from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, said the position the vessel had come to rest in could cause problems in its recovery.

“Currently she’s positioned with the stern settling on the sea bed and her bow out of the water, so we probably have a bigger problem now than we had yesterday,” he said.

“The conditions overnight didn’t help. We’ve lost the deck cargo so we’ve a raft of timber at sea and contingencies will be put in place to recover that.

“It’s now a case of getting insurers and salvors together in a meeting this morning to plan the way ahead.”

Traffic in nearby shipping lanes is being warned about the cargo which has been shed.