Little is left of her now, even most of the wreck above has been dismantled
Clyde Wreck 'Stolen' By Scrap Bandits
Sugar boat 'disappears' over the weekend during naval exercise...
With the price of scrap iron becoming so exhorbitant, we are all used to hearing stories of white vans drawing up and taking drain covers from the streets, so lucrative is the trade in illicitly obtained scrap metal. But gangs have done one better than all of these incidents put together in a lifetime.
For decades the rusting hulk of the CAPTAYANNIS, a sugar carrier, has lain on its side at the Tail of the Bank, since settling on a sandbank there in 1971 after a great storm tore her from her moorings.
The ship has never been removed, and has become something of a local landmark locally, affectionately being termed "The Sugar Boat". It has become a haven for wildlife and marine ecology over the years and it's presence seemed as solid as the Dumbarton Rock itself.
Over the weekend however, working in teams, and using a huge military exercise as cover, gangs of thieves have practcally removed the ship, only a part of her remains as they worked frantically to cut the ship up and then stow the metal aboard unknown vessels. Although most of the hulk remains, it is underneath the water, around 70 percent of what was visible has been removed and it is feared criminal underworld gangs are to blame.
One local resident is furious. Jack MacPrial runs fishing trips to the wreck and his livelihood is now severely affected
"The fish wont stay around there now as the light is getting into the remains of the hulk. It was a gold mine for businesses such as mine and was also a great sightseeing attraction. I am gutted."
Local authorities are baffled as to how the theft of so much scrap took place and locals say that they saw and heard activity around the wreck at night but assumed it was connected with the Warrior Joint Naval Exercise taking place on the Clyde at the weekend. This involved many ships and aircraft from a variety of countries.
One woman we spoke to in Helensburgh was convinced it was to do with naval and military build up, as explosions at Coulport had upset residents in that area too.
"We thought it was all one and the same thing and we were being kept in the dark - literally- as per usual. You really dont think such a thing could take place without someone somewhere investigating."
And it seems this has indeed been a cleverly conceived plan, with the thieves, clearly organised and numbering many people, knowing full well even the law enforcement agencies would presume military involvement taking place at night.
No-one from the port authority or the police were willing to comment but a senior official told Shipping Times, "We won't let this lie here, we won't be made a fool out of."
For more on the history of the CAPTAYANNIS see: Sugar Boat Article