Former floating restaurant rescued after it sinks following departure from Hartlepool

The recovery of the sunken MV Ella. Picture by Carl Dennis.
The recovery of the sunken MV Ella. Picture by Carl Dennis.

A boat once used as a floating restaurant and owned by Benidorm star Chrissy Rock has been lifted from the seabed after it sank.

The MV Ella had been unmanned as she was towed from Hartlepool to Rochester when she began to take on water, with her tow cut as she was 3.5 miles from the Port of Lowestoft.

The MV Ella as she left Hartlepool. Photo by Tom Collins.

The MV Ella as she left Hartlepool. Photo by Tom Collins.

This weekend, the mission resumed after initial efforts failed to raise the vessel.

The boat was taken on by entertainment star Chrissy and converted into a restaurant in 2010 when the Tall Ships Races arrived in town and was helped by fellow TV star Bruce Jones, best known as Coronation Street's Les Battersby.

It was being moved from the town's marina after being bought by a new owner.

It is thought the MV Ella had been resident in Hartlepool Marina since 2007 and had attracted criticism it was an eyesore.

The recovery of the sunken MV Ella. Picture by Carl Dennis.

The recovery of the sunken MV Ella. Picture by Carl Dennis.

At the start of July it began its journey to the marina in Kent, where it was said there were plans to covert it into offices or accommodation.

Late on Friday evening, a crane vessel, Cormorant, was drafted into the Port of Lowestoft and headed to the spot where the ship had come to rest.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency has confirmed: "The danger to navigation and the wreck are now removed and the salvage operations are concluded."

The rescue effort had begun on Friday, November 3, after the boat first sank on July 6 and was deemed a hazard to navigation and a danger to shipping.

The recovery of the sunken MV Ella. Picture by Carl Dennis.

The recovery of the sunken MV Ella. Picture by Carl Dennis.

The Secretary of State’s Representative for Maritime Salvage and Intervention (SOSREP), established a Temporary Exclusion Zone (TEZ) of 500 metres around the wreck and Trinity House marked the site with Emergency Wreck Marking Buoys.

A Dutch consortium comprising of DUC Marine Group and Multraship Towage and Salvage was then awarded the contract, with plans to lift the wreck from the seabed and remove any debris before the boat was taken for recycling.

However, last Monday, the agency said because of declining weather and sea conditions, all vessels returned to Lowestoft for the weekend.

On the Saturday, it had been possible for a hydrographic survey to be carried out of the site, showing the wreck had come to rest lower down in the sand than it had been previously.

This meant the plans to lift the wreck as first planned would be impracticable due to limited access and the need for more time, leading the agency to call in the large salvage grab, which needed to be installed onto a crane.

Once Friday's work had involved securing the wreck to the crane to ensure it could be moved into Lowestoft, where it was subject to approval by the harbour master.

A spokesman for the agency said: "The Maritime & Coastguard Agency continues to monitor the situation along with the local environmental group."