§ Mr. Foulkes
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what information he has about the location, time, weather conditions and other circumstances regarding the sinking of a Belgian trawler in the Irish sea on 6–7 March; whether the sinking was in United Kingdom territorial waters; what information he has on whether any submarines were in the vicinity; what arrangements have been made for an inquiry into the cause of the sinking; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Portillo
The Belgian-registered trawler Tijl Uilenspiegel sank approximately 25 miles south-east of the 629W Isle of Man on Sunday 5 March 1989. No distress signal was received from the vessel by Her Majesty's Coastguard. The precise time of the casualty if not known—it is thought to have sunk after noon.
Her Majesty's Coastguard were alerted to the incident when another Belgian trawler, Drakkar, recovered a body at 8.18 pm that evening. A subsequent major full scale search was mounted all that night and on Monday 6 March 1989, but no further bodies or any liferaft have been recovered. The sea condition was moderate, with a south east wind of 17 to 21 knots, with visibility at seven miles.
The casualty occurred outside United Kingdom territorial waters and no investigation will be undertaken by the Department. Department officials have contacted the Belgian maritime authorities to ascertain whether Belgium will be undertaking an investigation into the cause of this tragedy.
I am advised that no United Kingdom or allied submarine was operating in the area at the time of the incident.