Dunkirk wreck removed from Cambs river

26 March 2019, 17:27 | Updated: 26 March 2019, 17:30

River Lark Dunkirk boat

The wreckage of a boat that helped evacuate Dunkirk during the Second World War has been removed by the Environment Agency after it was left to sink in an east Cambridgeshire River.

The sunken Compass Rose had been abandoned by its owner in the River Lark, who officers were unable to contact after numerous attempts, and had to be removed because it was obstructing navigation on the river and could pose a risk to other boaters and the environment.

After several years in the water, the wreck was too badly damaged to salvage and came to pieces as it was being removed from the water by a mechanical grabber on mounted on a pontoon.

The 40-foot (approximately 12 metre) wooden cruiser is one of a dozen vessels being removed this month as the Environment Agency seeks to clear sunken, abandoned, unregistered and illegal boats from the Rivers Nene and Great Ouse.

Some of the boats have been abandoned and fallen into disrepair, while others, like the Compass Rose, have sunk and need to be removed so they don’t cause pollution or pose a hidden hazard to other vessels.

Most have not been registered with the Environment Agency, despite the fact that boaters are required by law to register any vessel they keep, use or let for hire on Environment Agency waterways. Not doing so can lead to prosecution, a hefty fine and a criminal record.

Paul Separovic, Waterways Operations team leader at the Environment Agency, said:

“This is a sad ending for one of around 700 boats that supported a heroic, life-saving effort during the war. It’s regrettable the Compass Rose survived that momentous event only to be left to sink nearly 80 years later.

We know the value these boats can carry – not just financially, but sentimentally and, in this case, historically – and that’s why we’re encouraging boaters to make sure their vessels are registered with the Environment Agency, which also means they’re more likely to be well-maintained and checked for safety.”