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Sinking ship drama between the quays.

MANY life-threatening dramas have unfolded on the River Tyne, but one such happening must have been a horrific event for the crew of the Cyprian Coast on the night of December 23, 1955.

An attempt to turn the coaster, between Newcastle and Gateshead Quays, ended with it being hit by the Swedish vessel Arabert, which resulted in the Cyprian Coast sinking within five minutes.

Luckily, all the crew of 10 managed to scramble to safety, either by dinghy or swimming.

The Cyprian Coast, was formerly the Tyne-Tees Steam Shipping Company's Alnwick and had been turning towards Gateshead Quay to berth when the collision occurred. The Arabert was on her way to sea with an escort of tugs.

Following the impact, some of the crew of the Cyprian Coast were rescued from the water by men from the Arabert; one man jumped into a tug, and two others managed to reach a dinghy.

The whole event happened in less than 10 minutes, and ended with part of her bow of the Cyprian Coast protruding above the water.

Members of her crew were: Capt JP Hall, of Liverpool; First Officer A McMath, of Hexham; Chief Engineer George Ballard, of North Shields; Second Engineer W Cunningham, of South Shields; steward J Hindmarch, of West Moor; H Kainins, of Felling; C Cooper, of Brixton and M Moodey.

The watchman was Harry Kennedy, of Newcastle, who when he scrambled aboard a tug which was attending the Arabert, lost his belongings, including his pay packet and spectacles.

Other members of the crew suffered more serious losses in property, including Christmas gifts, when they had to jump for their lives.

The raising of the vessel from her watery grave began on January 22, 1956, in driving rain and snow.

The 500 ton vessel began to lurch to the surface with the aid of air compressors on the quayside, which pumped air into "camels" floating above the vessel.

The water boiled as air disturbed the surface and the ship's hull lurched into view. A few days later she was back on the surface before being taken to Clelands Yard, at Willington Quay to be repaired. She put to sea again for sea trials on June 11, 1956.


BACK AT SEA The Cyprian Coast leaves Clelands yard, Willington Quay for trials in 1956 UNFORTUNATE INCIDENT Local photographer Jimmy Forsyth captured the salvaged Cyprian Coast lying off Newcastle Quayside between flotation tanks in January 1956
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jun 14, 2012
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