Sunken vessel found during search for fishing boat which vanished with its crew

A sunken vessel has been found during a sea search for a fishing boat which vanished with its crew.

The bodies of Carl McGrath, 34, Ross Ballantine 39, and Alan Minard, 20, were later recovered after the Nicola Faith went missing off the coast of Colwyn Bay on the evening of January 27.

The Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) said on Tuesday that a sunken boat had been found around two miles off the coast in Colwyn Bay. It is thought to be the missing fishing vessel.

A spokeswoman said: “A sunken vessel deemed to be of significant interest has been located in the Colwyn Bay area by an MAIB-commissioned vessel searching for the missing fishing vessel Nicola Faith.

“The chief inspector of marine accidents has issued a ‘Notice of Direction to Prohibit Access’ around the wreck, requiring that it be left undisturbed until further notice, pending further investigation by the MAIB.”

The Nicola Faith left Conwy to fish in Colwyn Bay but a major search was launched when it failed to return.

Last month police confirmed that bodies recovered off the coast were the missing crew.

North Wales Police confirmed that a body found at Blackpool was Mr McGrath, the skipper of the boat, and that Mr Ballantine had been found at West Kirby, Wirral. Both men were from Conwy.

The body of Mr Minard, from Penmaenmawr, was found on the Wirral coast on March 14.

A life raft belonging to the Nicola Faith was discovered off the coast of Kirkcudbrightshire in Scotland.

The families of the three crew are being supported by trained police officers.

An inquest into the deaths was opened and then adjourned earlier today.

Senior Coroner for North Wales East and Central, John Gittins, opened their inquests in Ruthin.

During a brief hearing, Mr Gittins said the last radio traffic communication from the three, was at 9pm on the day of their disappearance, saying they were heading towards the Rhyl Flats offshore wind farm.

An initial two day search returned no trace of the three men or their boat.

But a life raft belonging to the Nicola Faith was discovered off the coast of Kirkcudbrightshire in Scotland and was positively identified on March 5.

A private search was also launched for the three and their boat later last month.

It followed a fundraising campaign and was being led by ocean recovery expert David Mearns, who discovered the wreckage of the plane carrying Emiliano Sala.

Meanwhile, the Welsh Government’s fishing patrol vessel, Rhodri Morgan, was also drafted in.

An MAIB investigation continues.