Search for missing crew after Brixham fishing boat sinks

History of the fishing vessel

Joanna C is one of a sizeable fleet of highly efficient under-15m steel scallopers with varying degrees of automation operating from the South Devon port.

She was built in 1980 by Robertson McNaught of Neyland in Wales for Brixham skipper Bruce Cooke, the fourth Brixham-registered boat he owned to bear the same name.

Originally conceived as a multipurpose boat capable of trawling, scalloping, beaming and midwater trawling for sprats, Joanna C was one of the first Brixham boats to be fitted with the familiar local deck layout featuring a four-legged midships beam gantry and traditional aft gallows.

At the time, she was regarded as one of the best-looking steel trawlers in her class, with excellent sea-keeping qualities, and always drew admiring gazes from other fishermen.

She spent several years in Brixham, during which time she hit the headlines after catching a wartime mine in her dredges, which then exploded, severely damaging her fishing gear and that of her partner boat, Livine BM 221, which was towing close by.

Joanna C moved a little way up the Devon coast to Exmouth in 1984 under the command of John Green, before changing hands again within Exmouth in 1987.

During her time in Exmouth, she was again in the headlines when a submarine snagged her trawl and towed her astern at quite a rate before the crew had a chance to run the warps off the winch and free the boat. Miraculously, no crew were injured in either incident.

Further moves along the south coast followed, and she later belonged to owners at Teignmouth, St Mawes and Brixham respectively, before being purchased by Leach Fishing of Shoreham in 2007, who substantially refitted the boat.

Work included replacing most of her wheelhouse and shortening her by around a metre to under 14m to comply with local fishing byelaws, as well as replacing all of her deck ironwork and winches.

The boat was purchased by Derek Meredith in 2013, and has concentrated on scallop dredging, based mainly at Brixham, ever since.

Devon Live