Was marine debris the culprit in the sinking of Irish Tall Ship Asgard II?

 Cargo containers falling overboard

Last month, the Irish tall ship Asgard II sank when she suddenly began taking on water that overwhelmed her pumps. (See A Significant Loss for Sail Training, the sinking of the Irish Asgard II) All crew and trainees were safely rescued by the French Coast Guard in the middle of the night. Due to the nature and speed of the casualty there has been conjecture that the Asgard II may have struck some significant marine debris.

Anyone who takes to sea professionally or sails offshore knows the hazards of encountering marine debris, which at the extreme end can include shipping containers and vessel hatch covers washed overboard. New Zealand’s Vero Marine Insurance website has an interesting article on the dangers of lost cargo containers. Cargo containers overboard – Do they sink or swim?

The Asgard II website reports that the vessel sits relatively intact and upright on the sandy bottom off the coast of France. An ROV expedition identified a significant fracture of one of her hull planks. Her insured value is 3.8m euros is less than the preliminary estimates to salvage her. Certainly this will be no easy undertaking. (‘Asgard II’ more likely to be raised as exploration reveals it is largely intact Irish Times, Oct. 3, 2008)

It will be interesting to follow the Asgard II story.

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A Significant Loss for Sail Training, the sinking of the Irish Asgard II

Asgard II and the Eye of the Wind by Willie Waw on Flickr.com

The Old Blog Cabin reports that the Irish sail training vessel the Asgard II was lost in the Bay of Biscay today. Thankfully, all crew and trainees were picked up by a French Naval vessel and are reported safe. Here are links to the RTE News and Associated Press stories.

The Asgard II was featured in Standing Tall, Sail Training International’s video used to introduce young people to the adventure of sail training.


In 2000, she crossed the Atlantic as part of the Tall Ships 2000 fleet and was very popular wherever she visited in North America. She will be missed by the youth of Ireland and people from around the globe.

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