| Yorkshire's heroes of the sea|
Vessels died in Arctic hell
THE conditions were appalling.
Hurricane force winds lashed the seas into a frenzy. Blizzards swept down from the Arctic the true intensity of the swirling white-out apparent only in the deck lights.
On the Hull trawlers Lorella and Roderigo , both several miles off Iceland's North Cape, the skippers put their trawlers head into wind and prayed for the only thing they knew could save them - a moderation in the weather.
Each vessel fought its own battle to survive, the forepeak smashing downwards into the angry, mountainous seas and erupting in a mass of spray. They had no choice in which direction they could take. They sailed onwards - ever more northerly.
Neither trawler could turn and to do so would mean instant disaster. And they knew that their position became every more dangerous by the hour.
The vessels faced another problem, too, that of the relentless build-up of ice on their upperworks . The air temperature was 23F and the sea temperature 34F. The spray froze as it fell on the trawlers.
The time was early in the morning. From the Lorella came a message to the Roderigo:
"Boat deck frozen with solid snow, Lads digging it out since breakfast. Terrible lot on bridge top and they are going out there in daylight if possible.
"Roderigo: "Same here. The whaleback is a solid mass."
And so into the day..
14.21, Roderigo: One side of our aerial is down. Weather very bad and freezing.
14.36, Lorella (pictured): Heeling over.
14.39, Lorella: Going down. Heeling over. Lorella going down. Heeling over...
There was no further transmission.
15.43, Roderigo: Calling all ships, we are now taking heavy water.
16.30, Aerials now icing up.
16.45: Can anyone take a bearing on this frequency?
From the trawler Lancella, which was in shelter and listening into the broadcasts: Beatring as near as can say north east.
16.50, Roderigo to Lancella: Come to us. Position becoming serious now.
16.52, Lancella to Roderigo: We are coming to you.
An American aircraft from the USAF base on Iceland now asked Lancella for Roderigo's position. Lancella replied: Roderigo is 90 miles NE of Iceland's North Cape. Wind NE force 11-12, visibility nil to one cable.
Aircraft to Roderigo: What are your intentions?
1704, Roderigo: No intentions. Going further over. No visibility. Still going over to starboard.
17.05: Still going over to starboard. Cannot get her back.
17.08: Still going over. Going over.
17.09: Roderigo going over...
The message was repeated in Morse until, after three minutes transmission ceased.
Two vessels were missing.
And 40 Hull fishermen were dead.
Seven months later the calm of a Hull inquiry heard a witness say: "They could only hope for a moderation in weather or a rise in temperature."
Written by The Editor - 08/07/2001 07:29:19
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