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Calls for Asgard to be raised 'before it's too late'

4th December 2008

Fine Gael Defence Spokesman, Jimmy Deenihan TD, warned yesterday (Wednesday) that the delay in raising the Asgard II is endangering the chances of the ship being salvageable. Deeinhan called on the Minister for Defence to immediately outline what advice the Government has received on the Asgard and why he hasn't made a firm decision on raising the ship. An Afloat poll published last month also bore out the overwhelming public support to have the ship raised before it was too late.

"The Asgard II sunk on September 11th but in the last three months Willie O'Dea has refused to make a decision on raising the ship and it may now be too late.

"Under the sea, the Asgard could be suffering major and potentially irreversible long-term damage. Tide movements lead to silt and grit getting into every part of the ship while it is submerged and other damage is being done every day it is underwater.

"There are limited time periods, 'weather windows', in which the salvage of the ship can take place. The later it gets in the year the less weather windows are available. If the raising of the Asgard II is left too long, the damage done to the ship by being so long underwater may leave it a write-off, beyond economic repair, or cost a fortune to make sea-worthy again. There are already suggestions from certain professionals that it may already be too late to raise the Asgard. A decision was needed quickly and they say they have communicated this to the Minister.

"If that is the case, why has the Minister refused to make a decision on the matter? The salvage operation will take up to a month so the Minister must immediately outline exactly what he intends to do and exactly what advice he has received.

"The State does need to avoid unnecessary expenditure in the current climate but the longer the delay in making a decision, the greater the potential cost. If the Minister has already decided to leave the Asgard II at the bottom of the ocean, he should say so. It would be politically dishonest to wait until it is too late for the Asgard II to be raised and then say that your hands are tied.

"In the meantime, a ready replacement vessel is available in the Jeanie Johnstone and I hope the Government uses this fine ship in place of the Asgard, at least as a short-term measure."

Asgard II was covered by Allianz, an international firm, for Euro3.8m. The Department of Defence is confident a full insurance payout would cover the entire cost of the salvage operation and a refit of the vessel if it is successfully refloated.

This morning's Irish times carries a rebuttal of Deenihan's criticism by Minister O'Dea. Story here: 

Click this link for all Afloat's coverage of Asgard II's sinking, and the plans to raise, dive and replace her

Raise the Asgard - Afloat's 2008 online petition

Afloat is compiling Asgard memories. Did you sail on the ship or do you just remember seeing her sailing by? If you would like to share any thoughts please log on to the afloat.ie forum or post a comment below.

Published in Asgard II
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