The search for three Jersey fishermen missing from the 18-metre trawler l'Ecume II resumed today after it was suspended overnight The two crewmen onboard the l‘Ecume II which sank after being involved in an at-sea collision five-miles west of Jersey have been named ashore</p>
<p>Deputy Chief Minister of the States of Jersey, Kirsten Morel has promised that the search for missing skipper, Michael Michieli will continue

Deputy Chief Minister of the States of Jersey, Kirsten Morel has promised that the search for missing skipper, Michael Michieli will continue

Deputy Chief Minister of the States of Jersey, Kirsten Morel has promised that the search for missing skipper, Michael Michieli will continue despite the MV Freja search operations ending.

Mr Michieli has been missing since Thursday 08 December, when his 18-metre trawler l’Ecume II, collided with the 126-metre Commodore Goodwill off St Ouen’s Bay, on the northwest coast of Jersey. The fishing trawler sank immediately with all three crewmen who were onboard presumed lost. The Ports of Jersey authority began an indepth search of the area.

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Missing Jersey skipper Michael Michieli

Missing skipper Michael Michieli

Later that day, the ‘Ecume II was found on the seabed by a sonar search of the vicinity where the incident took place. On Friday 09 December, the search and rescue mission was changed to a search and recovery mission. The MV Freja, an offshore support vessel, being brought into to search the area of the wreck with a remotely operated underwater craft.

On Tuesday 13 December, two bodies were located close to the wreck, then recovered and brought ashore on Friday 15 December. On Monday 26 December, the two recovered crewmen were named as Larry Simyunn and Jervis Baligat, by the States of Jersey Police.

After an extensive search of the l’Ecume wreck, where the hull of the wooden vessel was opened and personal items recovered by the specialised underwater craft, they failed to find any further bodies. After exhausting the search capabilities of the underwater craft, the MV Freja search was called to an end, but the family of Mr Michieli has been told that the States of Jersey government have not given up just yet.

l'Ecume II jersey island

Deputy Chief Minister and Minister for Economic Development, Tourism, Sport and Culture, Deputy Kirsten Morel

Speaking on BBC Radio Jersey, Deputy Chief Minister of the States of Jersey, Kirsten Morel said:

“There’s a range of options including further exploration of L’Ecume with divers, or it is possible we may also need to look at the potential for raising the vessel.”

“These are questions that we need to assess, at the moment I don’t know how the search will continue but it will continue.”

In a statement released on 28 December the deputy Chief minister said:

“In the 20 days since the tragic collision, the search and recovery operation for L’Ecume II and her crew has been extensive. My heartfelt thanks go to everyone involved in this round the clock operation.

“The L’Ecume II’s wreckage and surrounding seabed have been extensively searched by MV Freja using specialist equipment. On Wednesday 14 December, the bodies of Jervis Ramirez Baligat and Larry Simyunn were brought ashore. Since then, every area of the vessel has been searched but very sadly Mick Michieli has not been found.

“With the conclusion of the MV Freja’s work, we have reached the conclusion of this part of the search and recovery operation and it is now time to assess the next steps.

“Our thoughts remain with everyone affected, particularly with the families of the three crew, who will remain fully supported and informed throughout the coming stages.”

An exclusion zone remains around the site, and two areas of work continue:

  • An independent investigation will be led by the States of Jersey Police, supported by UK’s Maritime and Coastguard Agency Enforcement Team. Based upon this investigation, the Attorney General will determine whether any criminal charges should be brought. Given the resource pressures put upon the SOJP by the Haut du Mont disaster, additional resource is being sought. A senior investigator will be appointed shortly.
  • The maritime safety investigation, which was commissioned immediately after the incident to determine the facts and what lessons can be learned, continues. It is being progressed by Maritime Standards, part of Ports of Jersey, in conjunction with the Bahamas Maritime Authority (as the Commodore Goodwill’s flag state), and the Philippines as an interested party.

Deputy Morel said: “My priorities are ensuring that the families and communities continue to be supported, the facts are established and any necessary action taken, to ensure an incident like this does not happen again.”

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Deputy Chief Minister promises search for missing Jersey skipper will continue

by editor time to read: 7 min