The fishing trawler Dianne, which capsized off Seventeen Seventy last month.
The fishing trawler Dianne, which capsized off Seventeen Seventy last month. Queensland Police Service

TRAWLER TRAGEDY: Police divers to return to sunken vessel

POLICE divers and salvage crews are preparing to raise the sunken fishing vessel Dianne from the ocean floor where it lies off 1770.

The Dianne overturned in Bustard Bay overturned in Bustard Bay on October 16 with seven crewmen on board.

The bodies of two men were located inside the vessel over the following days, and were identified as belonging to 30-year-old fisherman Adam Hoffman and the Dianne's skipper, 45-year-old Ben Leahy.

The four remaining crew members - Adam Bidner, Zachary Feeney, Chris Sammut and Eli Tonks - remain unaccounted for despite an extensive search of the surrounding land and sea having been conducted.

Crewman Rubern McDornan was the sole survivor.

Inspector Darren Somerville said police divers were confident they had cleared the vessel and no bodies remained inside.

"The only thing that could have happened is if someone was tangled up underneath the vessel... when it landed on the sea bed, that wasn't able to be searched," he said.

 

Sole surviving crew member of the Dianne Ruben McDornan and the second skipper Adam Kelly raise their hands in the air as a sign of respect for their lost and deceased mates. Picture: BRENDAN RADKE
Sole surviving crew member of the Dianne Ruben McDornan and the second skipper Adam Kelly raise their hands in the air as a sign of respect for their lost and deceased mates. Picture: BRENDAN RADKE

The Observer understands the salvage of the Dianne is being conducted at the direction of Maritime Safety Queensland, though the incident remains a matter for the State Coroner.

The divers will be accompanied by officers from the water police, scenes of crime, and disaster victim identification units, as well as the Criminal Investigation Branch.

"Obviously the Coroner has an interest in salvaging the vessel as well just to see why things occurred," Insp Somerville said.

"The divers and the investigators are there to maintain the integrity of the operation."

 

The search for four Cairns men still missing from the sunken trawler Dianne has been scaled back.
The search for four Cairns men still missing from the sunken trawler Dianne has been scaled back.

Police and the salvage crews plan to roll and lift the Dianne for police divers to assess, before raising it to the surface and then towing it to Bundaberg.

A barge has been towed to the scene in preparation for the salvage operation, which was due to begin today.

However poor weather is understood to have pushed the operation back by at least another day, meaning the Dianne may not be raised until Sunday.

"The salvage (crew) believes it will take two days," Insp Somerville said.

Poor weather also hampered the original search and rescue operation in the days following the trawler's sinking.

A comprehensive inspection of the trawler will be conduced as Queensland Police and Maritime Safety Queensland continue their joint investigation into the fatal incident, with a report to be prepared for the Coroner.



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