Scotland's last lightship reaches 'end of the road' as no buyers emerge

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Forty years of service off the coast Fife and another four decades in dock have taken their toll on the North Carr

Scotland’s last remaining lightship has reached ‘the end of the road’ after no potential buyers have stepped forward to restore the vessel.

The North Carr, which was launched in 1933, is berthed in Dundee's Victoria Dock. But 40 years of service off the coast Fife and another four decades in dock have taken their toll.

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The charity, which said it has spent some £100,000 on keeping the vessel afloat, said no buyer has come forward since it set a deadline earlier this year for offers before making plans for the ship to be scrapped The charity, which said it has spent some £100,000 on keeping the vessel afloat, said no buyer has come forward since it set a deadline earlier this year for offers before making plans for the ship to be scrapped
The charity, which said it has spent some £100,000 on keeping the vessel afloat, said no buyer has come forward since it set a deadline earlier this year for offers before making plans for the ship to be scrapped

The ship is owned by the charity Taymara, which had previously announced a January deadline for a potential buyer to come forward to prevent the historic vessel going to scrap.

The charity said it had spent some £100,000 on the boat just to keep it afloat for a potential future.

But Taymara’s David Kett confirmed there had been no viable offer, and the charity was now in the process of identifying artefacts worthy of preservation and locating appropriate repositories for them.

Mr Kett said: “I’m afraid that we have probably got to the end of the road with North Carr. This is due to a number of problems, not least the fact that Dundee has a permanently closed inner dock. This meant there was no way we could tow the lightship to a suitable yard when she was seaworthy.”

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The charity said the last offer that was made that would have helped restore the vessel was from an oil major in 2017 which put forward £1 million.

But Mr Kett said the offer was subsequently withdrawn without a reason being given. He said the drop in the oil price and the cost of cranage necessary to lift the ship up on to the hard “spoke volumes”.

Since then, it has been a ‘firefighting’ exercise using cement boxes, other patches and a vigilant pumping regime to keep the boat above water.

Mr Kett said it is possible the light tower would be removed to make a feature in the dock area. However, it is likely the remainder of the hull will go for scrap once a plan on how to do that has been determined.

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The ship, once operated by the Northern Lighthouse Board, was stationed off the North Carr rocks near Fife, warning ships away from the treacherous North Carr reef. The vessel played a vital role in navigation safety in the Second World War, safeguarding the Arctic Convoys and troop-carrying liners which entered the Clyde. The vessel is also known for its role in the 1959 Mona lifeboat disaster, in which eight men lost their lives. The crew of the Mona, an RNLI lifeboat, assisted in an incident in which the North Carr broke free from its moorings in St Andrews Bay in Fife. But all the men perished in severe storms as they battled to reach the lightship.

The vessel remained in service until 1975 and was used as a museum in Anstruther before being purchased from a scrapyard in 2010 for £1.

It is possible the ship’s light tower might be removed to make a feature in the dock area. However, it is likely the remainder of the hull will go for scrap once a methodology for achieving that has been determined.

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